WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin has officially begun assembly of Israel's first F-35 "Adir" fighter jet at the company's facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
"Today marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Israel," said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin F-35 program manager, according to the statement. "Lockheed Martin is proud of our long and storied relationship with Israel's armed forces. The F-35A Adir strengthens our solid relationship with the IAF and ensures that the Israeli aerospace industry will remain strong for decades to come."
Lockheed successfully delivered 45 F-35s to international partners and the US services in 2015, meeting the production goal for the year. But this is only the beginning of a global ramp-up: By the end of 2019, the Joint Program Office will have 493 operational jets around the globe, compared with just 126 today.