Israel Air Force declares F-35 squadron operational

A new age in the IAF: A year after arriving in Israel, the Adir F-35I fighter was declared operational. The fighter is considered one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Less than a year after landing in Israel, after completion of a capability inspection, the F-35 “Adir” Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) has been declared operational, Israel’s Air Force (IAF) announced Wednesday.

The fifth-generation fighter jet, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is considered one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, estimated to cost nearly $400 billion. Each plane costs an average of $110 million.

“The declaration of the squadron’s operational capability is occurring at a time in which the IAF is operating on a large scale in a number of fronts, in the constantly changing Middle East”, said Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, Commander of the IAF. “The operational challenge, which is becoming more and more complex each day, receives an excellent aerial response. The Adir aircraft’s operational status adds a significant layer to the IAF’s capabilities at this time”.

Following a series of tests and qualification examinations, the aircraft was found ready for operational activity.

“The inspection examined missions and scenarios that include all of the operational elements required to fly the Adir, from the ground to the air,” stated Lt. Col. Yotam, Commander of the 140th “Golden Eagle” Squadron, which operates the F-35. “I am confident in the division’s capability to reach operational preparedness and feel that the pressure is positive and healthy.”

The first two fighters arrived in Israel on December 2016. The IAF currently has nine aircraft at its disposal, five of which were chosen for the inspection. The Israeli F-35 is the first outside of the US to be declared operational, preceded only by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force.

The 140th Squadron’s aircrew members are among the first F-35 aircrew members in the world, a fact that strengthens their sense of mission. “Flying the Adir is exciting every time, from wearing your flight suit and unique helmet to starting the engine. Getting excited from the overwhelming thrust, the ease in which you climb and begin performing your mission,” said Yotam.

Throughout 2018, the “Golden Eagle” Squadron is expected to integrate six more fighters, while the next aircraft are scheduled to land in Israel early in the summer.

Israel has acquired a total of 50 F-35s which are to be supplied by December 2024.

By building up its F-35 squadrons, the IAF is ensuring its edge over enemies in the region for years to come.