(Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States would deliver new F-35 fighter jets to Israel next year to help its ally maintain its military edge in the Middle East.

Speaking at an Israeli Independence Day celebration in Washington, Biden described the aircraft as “our finest, making Israel the only country in the Middle East to have this fifth-generation aircraft.”

Vowing the United States would make sure Israel maintained its “qualitative edge,” Biden told the pro-Israel audience: “Next year, we will deliver to Israel the F-35.”