Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir participates in Red Flag for first time

Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir stealth fighters participate in Red Flag for first time

By Dario Leone
Apr 11 2023
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The F-35I Adir’s participation in Red Flag 23-2 marks the first time the aircraft has been deployed to the US.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) returned to Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) to participate in Red Flag 23-2, this time with its F-35I Adir. The large-scale exercise took place from Mar. 13 to 24, 2023 challenging participants to adapt to and overcome complex, multi-domain scenarios, all while up against Nellis’ professional Aggressor force trained to replicate threats participants will see in real-world conflict.

Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir participates in Red Flag for first time
An Israeli Air Force pilot prepares an F-35I Adir for takeoff prior to a Red Flag-Nellis 23-2 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Mar. 15, 2023. 

As told by A1C Trevor Bell, 57th Wing, in the article Israeli Air Force Adir participates in Red Flag for first time, the IAF’s participation in Red Flag 23-2 builds on the success of JUNIPER OAK 23-2, JUNIPER FALCON and other combined exercises and provides the US Air Force (USAF) the opportunity to enhance interoperability with the IAF, strengthen bilateral cooperation, and improve capabilities in ways that enhance and promote regional stability and reinforce the United States’ enduring commitment to Israel’s security.

The IAF first participated in Red Flag in 1978 and their return to Nellis AFB after a seven year-long absence underscores the importance of the relationship between the US and Israel.

Red Flag exercises are designed to provide joint and allied partners with realistic training scenarios and the skillset to maintain readiness and preparedness for potential real-world scenarios.

Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir participates in Red Flag for first time
Israeli Air Force members wait for F-35I Adirs to launch for a Red Flag-Nellis 23-2 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Mar. 16, 2023. 

“The F-35 Adir is a game-changer for us,” said Israeli Air Force 140 Squadron commander. “Its advanced capabilities make it an ideal platform for participating in complex exercises like Red Flag. We’re excited to showcase the capabilities of this aircraft to our American partners and learn from the experience of flying alongside them.”

The IAF’s employment of the Adir in this iteration provides mutually beneficial interoperability training opportunities while flying alongside of F-35A Lightning IIs from Hill AFB, Utah.

“The Israeli F-35 participation in Red Flag 23-2 is another step forward for the U.S. and its allies in the transition to the next level of air warfare,” said Col. Jared Hutchinson, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander.

Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir participates in Red Flag for first time
An Israeli Air Force member marshals an F-35I Adir to its spot after a Red Flag-Nellis 23-2 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Mar. 16, 2023.

The F-35I Adir’s participation in Red Flag 23-2 marks the first time the aircraft has been deployed to the US. The Israeli Air Force’s fleet of Adirs are state-of-the-art fighter jets equipped with advanced sensors and communication systems. They have been a key component of the Israeli Air Force since the F-35 joined their fighter fleet in 2016.

Israel became the first country to select the F-35 through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales process when a Letter of Agreement was signed in October 2010. On Jun. 22, 2016, the IAF received the first F-35 for Israel at a ceremony at the Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 factory. The service declared its F-35 fleet operationally capable in December 2017, marking the completion of an intensive integration and training effort conducted at Nevatim AFB, Israel. The IAF gave the F-35 the Hebrew name Adir which, meaning “Mighty One” in Hebrew.

F-35A print
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Israel has 33 F-35Is delivered so far and they are assigned to the 116th Lions of the South Squadron and the 140th Golden Eagle Squadron.

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Trevor Bell / U.S. Air Force

Lockheed F-35 Lightning II model
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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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