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      Defense Minister: F-35 'a Cornerstone' for IAF

      Minister Yaalon visits assembly line at Lockheed Martin factory in Texas, gets close look at F-35.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 10/10/2013, 10:45 PM

      Yaalon in F-35
      Yaalon in F-35
      Lockheed Martin

      Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon visited Thursday at the assembly line where F-35 stealth jets are being built, at the Lockheed Martin factory in Texas.

      The minister was hosted by Lockheed Martin's president, Marillyn Hewson. In the course of the tour, he was briefed by senior officials in Lockheed Martin about the firm and about the progress of the F-35 project.

      At the assembly line, he received detailed explanations about the different components of the F-35.

      "As someone who used to jump so many times from Lockheed Martin Hercules planes in paratroop exercises, and after two days of meetings in the US, I wanted to see the real thing,” Yaalon said. “The F-35 is a cornerstone in building the force of the IAF and IDF.”

      "This is a meaningful event for us,” he added. “Unfortunately, we are experienced at military operations because we have no choice but to defend ourselves, and that is why I think we are lucky to have an ally like the United States and to enjoy the capabilities of Lockheed Martin.

      "We have enjoyed the F-16 over the years, and I think there is a great future for the Israeli Air Force with the unique capabilities that the F-35 brings with it,” he added. “We are impatiently expecting to receive this jet, which was designed with knowledge and spirit, and will give the IAF great operative abilities.”