Israel expects to retain air dominance with arrival of F-35s

by WorldTribune Staff, November 30, 2016

Israel expects to have total air dominance in the Middle East for the next four decades with the arrival on Dec. 12 of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“The future is here,” Israeli Air Force (IAF) Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Tal Kalman said, adding that “the F-35 will allow the air force to do missions that its current aircraft are unable to do today. In quantity and quality, depth into enemy territory, in threat-filled areas, in the amount of missions, with less manpower.”

F-35 Lightning II Adir. /Lockheed Martin
F-35 Lightning II Adir. /Lockheed Martin

“In today’s era of multiple fronts, it is a significant addition.”

Israel is the first country to receive the F-35 outside the U.S. and once the jets land in Israel, they will not leave the country, excluding combat missions.

The F-35s are being delivered from the U.S. to Nevatim Air Force Base near Beersheba.

Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation stealth fighter, known as “Adir” (“awesome” or “mighty”) in Israel, is defined by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as “the most advanced in the world and the best for safeguarding Israel’s aerial superiority.” The F-35 “is a quantum leap in relation to the combat aircraft we have today.”

The F-35 is able to evade enemy radar, including the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system deployed in Syria and Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, while flying at supersonic speeds. With close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, pilots have an unparalleled access to information while in the air.

Lt.-Col. Yotam, the squadron commander of the Adir said, “we all understand that we bought this plane in order to attack places that we are not always able to attack, and this plane knows how to do it perfectly. This is our aim in receiving this plane.”

The five Israeli combat pilots chosen for the future squadron were “handpicked” by the commander of the squadron and underwent special training at Luke Air Force Base outside Glendale, Arizona, where they trained alongside pilots from several countries, which will also acquired the jet.

“I returned two weeks ago from four months of training on the Adir plane in the United States,” said Yotam. “Together with a team of more pilots and officers for the simulator, we went through very advanced and very comprehensive training to learn how to fly the Adir.”

According to senior IAF officers, all maintenance of the jet will be done in Israel. Other countries that purchased the aircraft will have their F-35s undergo maintenance at regional centers, often outside their own borders.