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Israel’s Special F-35I Adir Stealth Fighter Just Practiced A War

Israel became the first foreign country to select the F-35 through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales process when a Letter of Agreement was signed in October 2010. The IAF received its first F-35in 2016. It now operates a unique Israeli-only variant – the F-35I – which features a domestically-produced electronic warfare system (EWS) to ensure that the fifth-generation fighter will maintain its edge over other aircraft throughout the service of the aircraft.

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

Israeli F-35I ‘Adir’ Took Place in Red Flag Exercise – Israeli F-35I “Adir” (Hebrew for “Mighty One”) pilots are likely used to flying low and fast over the desert. However, last month those aviators weren’t hugging the ground over the Holy Land or other parts of the Middle East. Instead, they were operating out of Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada – where they joined pilots from the U.S. Air National Guard, United States Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force 414 Combat Training Squadron during the Red Flag-Nellis 23-2.

What Is Red Flag?

Red Flag exercises remain one of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat training exercises designed to improve the interoperability of U.S. and coalition forces. Nellis AFB has hosted the training drills since 1975 – and the exercises were first established to better prepare U.S. military forces for air combat. The drills employed lessons learned from Vietnam that showed that if a pilot survived their first 10 combat missions, their probability of survival for remaining missions increased substantially.

Red Flag is now held three times a year, and the January event was three weeks long and included aviators from the UK and Australia, while it was meant to focus on potential Chinese aggression. This most recent drill was meant to provide training to address Russian-based threats – as Russian forces are currently operating alongside Syrian units. Also, the Syrian military employs a number of Russian-based weapons, including air defense systems.

The third Red Flag is currently scheduled for August as a U.S.-only drill to focus on the Indo-Pacific Region.

Joint U.S.-Israeli Ops

Last month’s iteration of Red Flag focused heavily on advancing the capabilities and strengthening the alliances of U.S. European and Central Command (CENTCOM) warfighters. For the first time, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) brought their F-35I Adir to participate in Red Flag’s unique training with an emphasis on readiness for high-end warfighting and strategic competition.

“The Israeli F-35 participation in Red Flag 23-2 is another step forward for America and its allies in the transition to the next level of air warfare,” said Col. Jared Hutchinson, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “It’s a rare opportunity for warfighters from both countries to integrate our most advanced capabilities. As the Fifth-Generation Center of Excellence, Nellis AFB is uniquely capable of hosting allied F-35 units on the ground and challenging them in the air.”

During the drills, which ran from March 12 to 24, there were approximately 2,200 targets, realistic threat systems, and opposing enemy forces to ensure the attending pilots’ skills were truly put to the test. The Air Force noted that this level of training at Nellis and the Nevada Test and Training Range cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Moreover, the ability to train with pilots from around the world also ensures that U.S. aviators are able to further hone their skills.

“Without our total force partners, Red Flag 23-2 would be a much smaller and a less effective demonstration of airpower,” added Hutchinson. “This cross-flow of warfighter culture is something that has lasting benefits for the joint and allied participants who bring those skills back to home station and to the battlefield.”

About 100 aircraft took part in the Red Flag training fleets, during which time the Israel F-35Is took part in refueling exercises with U.S. KC-135 Stratotranker aircraft.

Israel’s Mighty One 

Israel became the first foreign country to select the F-35 through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales process when a Letter of Agreement was signed in October 2010. The IAF received its first F-35in 2016. It now operates a unique Israeli-only variant – the F-35I – which features a domestically-produced electronic warfare system (EWS) to ensure that the fifth-generation fighter will maintain its edge over other aircraft throughout the service of the aircraft.

Currently, two IAF squadrons now operate the F-35 including the 116th Lions of the South Squadron and the 140th Golden Eagle Squadron based at Nevatim Airbase.

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.