The Enduring Lightening exercise took place on Sunday, with drills limited to airborne activities in light of the the threat posed by the coronavirus.


The Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the U.S. Air Force conducted the joint Enduring Lightening exercise on Sunday in southern Israel, which included drills with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The fifth-generation fighters practiced contending with “varying strategic air and ground threats,” the IDF stated Monday.

“There was a full collaboration between the militaries, which included learning and sharing lessons,” the IDF added.

The Israeli army stressed that the exercise took place only in the air and there were no sessions on the ground because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions. Briefing was conducted using VC technology.

“Alongside the concerns for health, the Air Force continues to maintain full operational capability while maintaining continuity of operations under emergency conditions and in the essential need to continue its mission – protecting the State of Israel, in routine and emergency,” the IDF said.

The exercise was planned in advance as part of the training program for 2020, and was carried out despite the spread of the virus, “under the required procedures and commands and while adapting the exercise to them.”

The IDF and U.S. Army canceled a few exercises earlier this year following the spread of coronavirus.

The exercise demonstrates the close ties between the armies and “extends the sharing of knowledge and the learning of the F-35 capabilities and enhances the operational capabilities of the Air Force,” the IDF said.

The Adir (mighty) was declared operational by the IAF in December 2017. The Israeli F-35 was the first outside of the U.S. to be declared operational, preceded only by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. 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.