on January 25, 2021, An F-35I “Adir” of the Israeli Air Force was spotted during a low-altitude flight in Lebanon. The picture was shared on social media by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Ali Shaib, a photographer for Hezbollah-owned TV station Al Manar, tweeted photos of the advanced fifth-generation aircraft flying over Lebanon.
Shaib mistakenly identified the planes as F-15 fighter jets but an examination of the photos clearly showed that they were F-35s, the most advanced fighter jet in IAF use. He wrote that he had counted six fighter jets.
Israel became the first country to select the F-35 through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales process when a Letter of Agreement was signed in October 2010. On June 22, 2016, the Israeli Air Force received the first F-35A Adir for Israel at a ceremony at the Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 factory.
The IAF currently has about 30 active F-35i Adir aircraft out of a total of 50 planes set to land in the coming years, to make two full squadrons by 2024.
The IAF announced in August that as part of changes to make the force more efficient and better able to contend with regional threats, a third F-35i Adir squadron will open next year.
In 2018, IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin revealed that F-35s were being used in operations to attack enemy targets. Norkin also displayed a photograph of an Israeli F-35 flying over Beirut.
“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East. It has 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,” he said at the time.