Israeli F-35 (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel Becomes First Country To Use F-35 Stealth Fighter In Combat

Israeli F-35 (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel's first two F-35 stealth fighter jets, December 2016 (Image: Israel Defense Forces)

Israel has used the next-generation F-35 fighter jet for the first time during a recent mission, the head of the country's air force has said.

The airstrike would make the country the first in the world to fly the stealth fighter on combat operations.

Major General Amikam Norkin told an international air force commander convention that the jets have been used in two separate airstrikes:

"We attacked twice in the Middle East using the F-35 - we are the first in the world to do so.

"The Israeli Air Force is a pioneer and a world leader in operating air power."

He added that the air force was just beginning to understand the "huge potential" of the aircraft.

In a brief video clip released by the army, Norkin pointed to what he said was a picture of the plane "over Beirut".

He did not say when the mission occurred, but Syria and Iran have accused Israel of carrying out a number of airstrikes recently in Syria.

On 10 May, Israel acknowledged striking a series of Iranian targets in Syria in response to an Iranian rocket attack launched from the neighbouring country.

Israel became the first country outside of the US to acquire the multirole fighter, so far receiving nine of the 50 it has ordered so far. 

Its first fifth-generation warplanes arrived in 2016, and they were declared operational in 2017.

British F-35s are due to touch down at their new home in Norfolk next month.

The supersonic aircraft have been based in the US since their manufacture, being tested and used for training by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots.

Air Commodore Bradshaw said it will be a "hugely significant" moment when the F-35 jets arrive at RAF Marham.