The Israeli Air Force says its F-35A fighters recently participated in two separate air strikes, which would be the first use of the F-35 in combat.
The IAF did not offer much detail, leaving it unclear whether the fighters fired any kind of weaponry or simply acted in some kind of support capacity.
Israeli Air Force head Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin told participants at a IAF leadership conference, “We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East. It had become part of our operational capabilities. We are the first to attack using the F-35 in the Middle East and have already attacked twice on different fronts.” According to the Jerusalem Post, Norkin made the remarks while standing in front of a photograph of a F-35 flying over Beirut, Lebanon.
Israel has one squadron of F-35s at Nevatim Air Base. The squadron was declared combat capable in December 2017. The country has another F-35s on order. Israel’s version of the multi-purpose warplane, called the F-35I, has Israeli technology built into the plane at the factory, including an Israeli-developed command, control, communications, computer and intelligence (C4I) system.
The IAF head did not elaborate on the two claimed attacks. As far as recent Israeli actions, we know that on February 10, Israeli warplanes struck Iranian forces in Syria, losing a F-16I fighter in the process. Seven days later, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip against Israel resulted in IAF air strikes against the terrorist group Hamas. On May 11, Israel attacked more than 50 Iranian targets in Syria, Israel’s largest air operation against Syria in almost forty years, after Iranian forces launched 32 surface-to-surface rockets against targets in Israel.