Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter welcome the first two U.S.-built F-35 stealth jets to an Israeli air base. Rough Cut (no reporter narration.)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Israel on Monday (December 12) became the first country after the United States to receive the U.S.-built F-35 stealth jet which will enhance its air force's ability to attack distant targets, including Iran. The much-hyped arrival in Israel of its first two fighter jets was heavily disrupted after bad weather delayed their take-off from Italy and overshadowed by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's complaints on Twitter that Lockheed Martin's whole F-35 project was far too expensive. Israel's F-35 squadron is expected to be the first to be operational outside the United States and will enhance its ability to attack distant targets using stealth. The two planes will be the first of 50 fighters, each priced at around $100 million, Israel's air force will receive. But the plane's late landing pushed the ceremony back until after nightfall at the Nevatim Air Base in the southern Negev desert. It was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Netanyahu said the jets would allow the Israeli military to operate in any environment, near or far. "Our long arm has now become longer and mightier," he said at the ceremony. Carter said the F-35s were critical to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the region. A U.S. squadron of the planes, which have encountered many delays and cost overruns, become operational in August. The F-35 program is the Pentagon's largest weapons project. President-elect Donald Trump criticized the cost of the program on Twitter, sending Lockheed-Martin shares down 4 percent.