The Israel Air Force (IAF) declared its F-35I “Adir” (“mighty one” in Hebrew) stealth fighter fleet operationally capable on Dec. 6, 2017, thus becoming the second country after USA to declare IOC for the multirole combat jets.
The IAF Initial operational capability (IOC) declaration marks the completion of an intensive integration and training effort conducted by the IAF with nine assigned F-35I aircraft at Nevatim AFB, Israel.
The IOC declaration also verifies the IAF possesses the ability to not only operate the IAF fleet in performance of IAF missions, but also to train IAF pilots and maintainers, and support F-35I operations through a robust logistics footprint and support system.
“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 and today they are the first nation outside the United States to declare initial operational capability,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “The F-35 Adir strengthens our solid relationship with the Government of Israel and the Israeli Air Force. The F-35 government and industry team will continue to deliver on our commitments and congratulate the IAF on achieving this significant milestone.”
Israel’s program of record is 50 F-35As and their industrial contribution to the program includes Israel Aerospace Industries F-35A wing production; Elbit Systems Ltd. work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system, which all F-35 pilots fleet-wide will wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 center fuselage composite components production.
“The entire F-35 team congratulates the Israeli Defense Forces on achieving this critical milestone,” said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and General Manager for the F-35 program. “We thank the people of Israel for placing their confidence in the F-35 to preserve and strengthen Israel’s defense for decades to come.”
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.
The fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, advanced mission systems, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and cutting-edge sustainment.
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.
The three distinct variants will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for 11 other countries.
On 31 July 2015, the U.S. Marines declared ready for deployment the first squadron of F-35B fighters after intensive testing. On 2 August 2016, the U.S. Air Force declared its first squadron of F-35A fighters combat-ready. The Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration of Navy fighters are expected in 2019.
More than 240 F-35s have been built and delivered worldwide, and they have collectively flown more than 105,000 flight hours.