Unique F-35I Test Aircraft Arrives in Israel

A unique F-35I test aircraft, which was developed to match the unique requirements of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), arrived in Israel on August 4, the service announced.

With the delivery of the test aircraft (AS-15) to the Flight Testing Center at Tel-Nof Air Base, Israel will be the first country to operate an F-35 test aircraft on its territory other than the United States. The aircraft will act as a testbed for the country’s planned modifications.

The experimental 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 IAF’s F-35I “Adir” aircraft in the present and future.

The Flight Testing Center Squadron 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.

According to IAF, the test aircraft 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.

Along with the unique F-35I test aircraft, three other F-35I Adir stealth fighter aircraft arrived in Israel on August 4. These aircraft arrived at the 140th (“Golden Eagle”) Squadron, the IAF’s first “Adir” squadron, which was established in 2016.

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.

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