Four additional Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35I Adir stealth fighter aircraft arrived in Israel on Tuesday, August 4, the service announced.
The new aircraft will join the array of “Adir” jets in the IAF that became operational in December 2017. Three of the F-35I aircraft arrived at the 140th (“Golden Eagle”) Squadron, the IAF’s first “Adir” squadron, which was established in 2016. One of the aircraft, an experimental test platform, will arrive at the Flight Testing Center at Tel-Nof Air Base for the first time.
“The continued acquisition of “Adir” aircraft is another expression of the long-standing military cooperation between Israel and the United States, which continues to yield optimal results in the strengthening and enhancement process”, said an IAF statement announcing the arrival.
“The “Adir” squadrons add another tier to the IAF’s operational and strategic capabilities, which will preserve its superiority in all its activity, most importantly protecting Israel’s skies and security”, the statement added. The statement also noted that the IAF is the first air force in the world besides the United States to operationally operate the F-35 aircraft.
The Flight Testing Center Squadron at Tel-Nof Air Base conducts the IAF’s experimental flights on all of its aircraft. The squadron consists of aircrew members, RPAV operators, and engineers, who plan and conduct flight experiments in a wide variety of fields.
Experimental aircraft are special aircraft that have been equipped during production with advanced testing systems. The F-35I test aircraft (AS-15) was developed to match the unique requirements of the IAF and will assist the Flight Testing Center in building a development division for F-35 aircraft with emphasis on munitions, advanced operating systems, and more.
With the delivery of the test aircraft, Israel will be the first country to operate an F-35 test aircraft on its territory other than the United States. This aircraft was designed with signal and information collection capabilities with specific equipment. It is a significant milestone for the IAF and provides a new ability to conduct unique test flights with the “Adir” in the present and future.
Israeli F-35 Procurement:
In October 2010, Israel signed a letter of agreement through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process to become the first country to select the F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) variant.
F-35I Adir (Hebrew: אדיר, meaning “Awesome”, or “Mighty One”) is an F-35A CTOL variant equipped with unique Israeli modifications. The Israeli Air Force declared its F-35I fleet operationally capable on 6 December 2017 second behind the U.S. The F-35 recorded its first operational strike in the service of the Israeli Air Force, targeting Iranian military facilities in Syria during 2018’s clashes.
Israel’s industrial contribution to the F-35 program includes Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) F-35A wing production; Elbit Systems’ work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display (HMD) system, which all F-35 pilots fleet-wide will wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 center fuselage composite components production.
Israel’s program of record is 50 F-35As. According to reports, the IAF is also considering the purchase of an additional 25 F-35Is.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, fifth-generation stealth multirole fighters designed and developed by Lockheed Martin to perform ground attack and air defense missions.
It has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.