‘Lions of the South’: Israel’s newest F-35 fighter squadron takes off

The F-35i “Adir” fighter is considered to be one of the world’s most advanced stealth aircraft.

By World Israel News Staff

In a grand ceremony at Nevatim Air Force Base in southern Israel on Thursday, Israel’s Air Force introduced its new 116th squadron nicknamed “Lions of the South.”

“Over 60 years, generations of pilots and technicians, officers, NCO’s and soldiers fought in all wars and operations, and trained generations of aircrew fighters,” IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said.

“You are looked up to by many. You are in charge of the strategic abilities of Israel. This is a sacred task that only a focused team with a deep sense of commitment will fulfill,” he said.

“The Air Force carries a great deal of responsibility every day. From now on, Squadron 116 is again becoming part of the strategic arm, part of our qualitative advantage over our enemies. Now, we are stronger,” he added.

The “Lions of the South” squadron is the second F-35i “Adir” fighter jet squadron, joining the “Golden Eagle” Squadron (140th Squadron) which was declared operational in December 2017.

The F-35i “Adir” fighter is the world’s most advanced stealth aircraft, with real-time processing, control and situational awareness abilities, which makes it a multi-purpose weapon.

The continued acquisition of the F-35i “Adir” fighter jet demonstrates the quality of the military cooperation between Israel and the U.S., says the Israel Air Force, and continues to produce excellent results in procurement and development processes.

The IAF is one of the only forces in the world which employs the F-35i “Adir” fighter jet operationally, alongside the U.S., Italian, and U.K. air forces.

The capabilities of the F-35i “Adir” add another layer to the operational and strategic capabilities of the Israeli Air Force, which will ensure its superiority in all missions, most importantly the defense of Israeli airspace and its security.

Over the past year, the “Adir” fighter jets also participated in several international exercises in cooperation with foreign armies and air forces, including the “Tri-Lightning” and “Blue Flag” exercises.

The 116th Squadron was first established in 1956 at the “Tel-Nof” AFB and over the years operated the “Mustang,” “Mystère”, “Eagle” and “Skyhawk” aircrafts.

In 1983, the squadron moved to the “Nevatim” AFB, while operating the “Skyhawk” aircraft and became the first squadron to operate from that base. In 2003, the squadron began operating the “Fighting Falcon” (F-16) aircraft until 2015, when the squadron was closed.

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