Remarks of Former Ambassador Shapiro at the Joint Strike Fighter Wings Assembly Line inauguration ceremony

Thank you, Chairman Maor. Minister Yaalon; Lieutenant General Bogdan; Director General Harel; Brigadier General Shapland; Executive Vice President for Lockheed Martin International, Mr. Dewar; Vice President, Lockheed Martin F-35 International Programs, Ms. Susan Ouzts; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen:

I am delighted to be here with all of you today to mark the opening of the Joint Strike Fighter Wings Assembly Line at IAI and to commemorate the latest in a long line of partnerships that define the strong ties that bind Israel and the United States. These ties go well beyond our governments. They are also reflected in joint research, development, and production by some of our nations’ most renowned industrial leaders like Israel Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin.

It was hard to envision what we see today when you broke ground on this assembly line one year ago. But since that time, IAI Lahav and Lockheed Martin have worked hard together to ensure the most modern tooling and manufacturing processes are in place, enabling IAI to uphold its commitment to quality and precision. With the first delivery of the wing sets for the F-35 strike fighter aircraft scheduled for the middle of 2015, IAI and the state of Israel continue to solidify their role as a global leader in the defense industry worldwide, and a key defense partner of the United States.

The vision of the F-35 program is to “deliver and sustain the most advanced strike fighter aircraft to protect future generations worldwide.” Such a powerful statement highlights a program with great significance not only to the United States, but also to Israel and the world as a whole.

The commitment of our countries to partner on the F-35 program, which will form the backbone of the US and Israeli Air Forces for the next generation, will have a significant, lasting impact. It is evidence of the strong friendship and dedication that defines the Israel-U.S. relationship. In today’s world, with actors seeking to cause harm to both our countries, it is reassuring to know that the United States and Israel will always support each other. Today’s ceremony illustrates this bond in our common security.

As President Obama has stated, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place—and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers—and foremothers—fought must be the work of every generation. Here we can see the work of our generation. Here is evidence of our mutual commitment to the bond between Israel and the United States.

I eagerly look forward to seeing the first wing sets completed here at IAI Lahav next year. I am sure the employees are just as excited to be part of such a vital program.

שמעשי ידיכם יתנו לטייסנו להמריא על כנפי נשרים.

May the work of your hands cause our pilots to soar on eagles’ wings.

Thank you for your partnership, and I wish you all great success as you begin your work.