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 the country’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. It is the first country outside the US to be allowed access to the warplane, said to be 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 antiaircraft missile systems. Lockheed describes the plane as “virtually invisible”.