“We are the first to attack using the F-35 in the Middle East and have already attacked twice on different fronts,” said Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin.
By United With Israel Staff
The Israeli Air Force was due to inaugurate a new squadron of F-35 “Adir” stealth fighter jets on Thursday evening. What makes the launch of the 117th squadron at the Nevatim Air Base near Beersheva unique is that it will be a “skeletal” squadron to train Israeli pilots to fly what’s widely regarded as the world’s most-advanced jet fighter.
The 117th’s only facilities, in fact, will be flight simulators plus real Adirs taken from other squadrons.
According to Jerusalem Post sources, it’s not clear if the 117th will remain a training squadron over the long term, or eventually become operational.
The IAF has 27 stealth fighter jets with more to be delivered from the U.S. over time between now and 2024. Three are expected to arrive in September or October.
Israel’s stealth fighters first became operational in 2018. That same year, Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin confirmed that Israel was the first country in the world to use an F-35 in combat.
“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East. It has become part of our operational capabilities,” Norkin said then. “We are the first to attack using the F-35 in the Middle East and have already attacked twice on different fronts.
Since then, the Adirs have flown missions over Gaza. It’s presumed they’ve also been involved in missions over Syria striking Iranian proxies.
They have also participated in a number of exercises with foreign militaries. The most recent one was the Tri-Lightning Drill, in which Israeli, U.S. and British aircraft simulated dogfights, advanced surface-to-air drills, and attacking targets deep in enemy territory.