The F-35 stealth fighter jet, known in Hebrew as the Adir (“mighty”), was rolled out Wednesday in a special ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas attended by officials from the Israel Air Force and Defense Minister, including freshly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, as well as Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
As the next generation jet stood majestically on the stage, emblazoned with a Star of David, top Israeli pilots heaped praise on the Lockheed Martin plane scheduled to be delivered to Israel in December.
“It was like holding the future in my hands,” said Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, IAF Chief of Air Staff. “The unique combination between split edge technology, lethality and amazing man-machine interface will lead the world to the fifth generation”.
“I don’t think that it is an exaggeration to say that the presence of the F-35 in the Middle East will change the dynamic of the region for the better,” Kelman added.
— Israeli Air Force (@iafsite) June 22, 2016
“The IDF’s military strength is Israel’s main pillar of defense. The F-35s will dramatically enhance the IDF’s military power,” said Liberman. “Israel is the first country outside the US to receive these operational, excellent airplanes. The F-35 technology represents the crown jewel of air-power superiority and will therefore be a great contribution to the IDF’s air force.”
Liberman also stress that diplomatic tensions between Israel and the US have not affected the security cooperation.
“It’s not a secret that we have from time to time some disagreements, some disputes, with the US on the political level regarding some solutions with our neighbors,” Liberman said. “But when it comes to Israel’s security, we really enjoy full understanding, fruitful cooperation and strong commitment to our security concerns and needs.”
The rollout ceremony also featured a performance Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza, who sang his trademark ballads of peace.
Going off script for a moment, Liberman joked to Broza: “I’m not so optimistic like you about the possibility of achieving peace with our neighbors in the near future, but despite my personal position please try to create more new songs.”
Following the rollout ceremony, Minister Liberman entered the aircraft and scribbled on the jet with a Sharpie: “The best aircraft for the best pilots.”
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman just graffiti-ed the brand-new Israeli F-35 in Texas. pic.twitter.com/Tr7jgvlGJD
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) June 22, 2016