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F-35I Adir: Why Perhaps the Best Stealth Fighter on Earth Is Grounded

F-35I Adir Israel
F-35I Adir. Image Credit: IDF Air Force.

F-35I Adir Is on the Tarmac: Following the December 15 crash of a Lockheed Martin F-35B at a United States Navy base in Texas, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) announced on Sunday that it had grounded eleven of its fighters. The aircraft would be checked for a similar issue that apparently led to the crash before any of the IAF fighters are returned to service. 

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The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that nearly a dozen F-35I “Adir” fighters would be inspected following recommendations by the F-35 Joint Program Office.

“From the findings and the information given, it was found that these planes require a dedicated inspection in order to rule out the possibility of a repeated malfunction in the Israeli array,” the IDF said via a statement, according to the Times of Israel.

Second Grounding

This is actually the second time this year that the IAF has been forced to briefly ground its fighters.

In August, the entire fleet of thirty-three jets underwent a detailed inspection and evaluation out of an abundance of caution. In fact, nearly the entire Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet of aircraft around the world was also inspected after a faulty component was discovered, which could have prevented the pilot from being able to safely egress from the aircraft during an emergency.

The IAF teams, as well as other operators, had been provided equipment from Lockheed Martin to conduct inspections of the Martin-Baker ejection seats.

The matter was resolved within just a couple of weeks. It is expected the Israel Air Force’s F-35s will be inspected this week and returned to service by the New Year.

Israel’s F-35I Adir

Israel currently operates the advanced stealth jets in two squadrons, the 116th Lions of the South Squadron and the 140th Golden Eagle Squadron based at Nevatim Airbase. The IAF also has a third squadron used for training.

The State of Israel became the first foreign nation to select the F-35 through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales process when a Letter of Agreement was signed more than a decade ago in October 2010.

On June 22, 2016, the IAF received its first F-35A at a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas facilities.

The IAF’s F-35 is actually a special variant that was developed to address concerns that the Lightning II’s stealth capabilities could be partly overcome within a decade despite the 30- to the 40-year service life of the aircraft. Israel sought to utilize its own electronic warfare system (EWS), and while the U.S. had initially refused to allow such changes, it was eventually agreed that the IAF could integrate its own EWS, including sensors and countermeasures, on top of the U.S. systems.

Mighty One

In addition to the Israeli-specific software enhancements in the F-35, IAF pilots also utilize a locally-developed helmet-mounted display, and bespoke datalink functionality that is specific to the IDF, while other enhancements further improved the F-35’s already-potent data gathering and processing capabilities.

These various upgrades to the stealth aircraft were considered significant enough to warrant the ‘I’ designation, making the F-35I one of just a handful of formally acknowledged F-35 variants. The Israeli Air Force designated the F-35I with the name Adir, meaning “Mighty One” in Hebrew.

It was last month that the IAF received three additional Adir fighters, bringing the total of F-35s in the fleet to thirty-six.

Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. nooneuknow

    December 26, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    Ah, the F-35! Still yet costing more money to fix from the flawed original design! What a piece of junk!

  2. David

    December 27, 2022 at 11:05 am

    So what is your brilliant idea for this program? I suppose we could go back to our old ways, using hydraulics for control structures, but go ahead with advancing communication improvements? One good EMP could cause some problems with all of our computer controlled fighters and bombers. There never was, and never will be any shortages of problems to solve. There just may not be any easy fixes! GgG New ideas may be just around the corner for us. What we really need is something that can take off from the ground, and reach space. There is a desperate need for new ideas to develope There is no shortage of new ideas, and grounding the F-35 won’t really do much.

  3. David

    December 27, 2022 at 11:11 am

    Some still say it;’s impossible, but then people believed the earth was flat, the speed of sound could never be exceeded, the speed of light can’t be exceeded either! We can’t establish a base on the moon either, it seems there is an unending list of what we can’t do, how about increasing the list of what we can do!

  4. Big Jake

    December 28, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    This article is useless. It provides no context regarding the type of malfunction that is causing concern.

  5. Jack Amos

    December 28, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Obama and his democrat cronies in the senate killed the proven F22 Raptor program that was cutting edge and it cost much less per copy which directly lead to these “golden pilot seats” with never ending problems. And China got “free technical advice” for building their own J20’s courtesy of that administration. Just a continuation of the Clintons good will policy of sharing our national secrets and uranium stock piles with our sworn enemies.

  6. CharlieSeattle

    December 28, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    Allowing defective jets to go into service is NOT a solution!

  7. Jason Bradley

    December 29, 2022 at 8:41 am

    Total clickbait – that I fell into. How about giving us the information about WHY they grounded the damned bird! So, we got a nice cut and paste about the Israeli F-35s, lovely.

    This site really, really needs to do better.

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