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Critics blast US shipment of fighter jets to Israel

• by Al Jazeera

Israel received three F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States at the weekend – a new generation of "near-invisible" planes that critics fear will free Israel's hand to launch air strikes and spying operations against neighbouring states undetected.

In total, Israel has bought 50 F-35s from manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and claims it will have the first squadron combat-ready before the end of the year.

Israel is the first country outside the US to be allowed access to the war plane, the most expensive ever developed.

The F-35's main selling point is its advanced stealth capabilities, reportedly allowing it to evade even the most sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems. Lockheed describes the plane as "virtually invisible".

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