In a first, IAF F-35 deploy to Italy to train with US, UK

June 7, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Six Israeli Air Force “Adir” (mighty) F-35I Joint Strike Fighter aircraft took off on Sunday for Italy for a historic and first-of-its-kind deployment during which they will face off with fighters from three air forces.

An Israeli F-35 “Adir” jet. Credit: Israeli Air Force/Maj. Ofer.

The Israeli aircraft will participate in the Fifth Crown large-scale bi-weekly exercise that will begin Monday with the participation of the Italian, American and British Air Forces.

“We see this exercise as of great value to the Air Force, especially in improving our ability to deploy the Adir array to remote bases,” a senior Air Force source said.

The cooperation with other air forces is “very important and significant” for the IAF and is a direct continuation of its policy in recent years of holding a large number of international exercises in Israel and abroad, the source added.

The deployment will last two weeks, during which the teams will practice a variety of different scenarios, including training in an unfamiliar arena, defending the country’s skies, scenarios of air-to-air battles and air-to-ground battles, dealing with the threat of advanced surface-to-air systems, fighting in enemy territory and ground support.

This is the first time that the IAF’s F-35s have been deployed outside the borders of Israel, with several main goals, including the strengthening of cooperation with foreign air forces, getting to know F-35 squadrons around the world, promoting connectivity capabilities between F-35 aircraft, training in an unfamiliar arena and improving Adir deployment capabilities.

The Israeli forces will fly two sorties each day. The first sorting will be carried out in cooperation with US Air Force F-16s and the second sorting will take place as part of joint training with the Italian and British Air Force.

“We went through a long process that lasted almost a year, which was mainly focused on the ability to move the F-35 to deploy in foreign territories, in the face of many connectivity challenges around systems and communications capabilities. The exercise is part of a whole process at the end of which we will want to see Adirs flying on the US’ Red Flag exercise,” the senior IAF source explained.

“We use the training to build capabilities and competence to work in a different and challenging arena. We will learn from the exercise lessons for working within the corps, and we will learn how to take advantage of the Adir plane in an arena of uncertainty,” he concluded. “We see the exercise as a significant event in the intensification of the corps. We have a lot to learn and also to teach.”

The first IAF Adir F-35 JSF squadron was declared operational by the IAF in December 2017. The Israeli F-35 was the first outside of the US to be declared operational, preceded only by the US Marine Corps and the US Air Force.

The fifth-generation fighter jet, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is considered one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Israel has acquired a total of 50 F-35s which are to be supplied by December 2024.

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