USAF and Israeli Air Force F-35s team up for Enduring Lightning III exercise

USAF and Israeli Air Force F-35s team up for Enduring Lightning III exercise

By Dario Leone
Oct 19 2020
Share this article

It was the third joint exercise between the two countries involving the F-35 Lightning II.

U.S. Air Forces Central (AFCENT) and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted exercise Enduring Lightning III on Oct. 12, 2020 in the skies over Israel. According to the service News Release, it was the third joint exercise between the two countries involving the F-35 Lightning II.

The IAF’s 116th Squadron, which operates the “Adir” F-35I fighter jet, trained alongside the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. The 340th EARS assigned to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, participated as well. The 421 EFS operates the F-35A Lightning II, while the 908th EARS and 340th EARS provided aerial refueling support with a KC-10 Extender and KC-135 Stratotanker.

Other IAF units participating included the 122nd Squadron, with its “Nachshon” aircraft providing air traffic control support, and the 115th Squadron, providing a simulated adversary force with its F-16I aircraft.

“The Enduring Lightning exercises provide invaluable opportunities for both AFCENT and our Israeli partners to improve readiness and strengthen relationships,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) commander. “This partnership has been built on trust and developed over decades of mutual cooperation, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to regional stability.”

USAF and Israeli Air Force F-35s team up for Enduring Lightning III exercise
A U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender refuels a U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II in support of exercise Enduring Lightning III over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Oct. 12, 2020. 

The opportunity to once again train alongside the IAF also provided an immeasurable experience for the U.S. F-35s, said Lt. Col. Stephen Redmond, 421st EFS commander.

“This is the second time this deployment that the Black Widows (421st EFS) have had the opportunity to fly, train, and learn with [Israeli] F-35Is,” Redmond said. “Not only do our young officers get an opportunity to be a mission commander of a multi-national exercise, but most importantly, they build relationships with Israeli fighter pilots that they will keep for the duration of their careers.”

During the exercise, the F-35s trained to their primary mission set of Offensive Counter Air. Both U.S. and Israeli F-35s faced exercise surface and air adversaries with the goal of achieving an objective at a simulated target area.

USAFCENT strives to be an indispensable partner in the region, working to maximize regional capabilities in regards to mutual security concerns.

“The partner nation integration exercises have improved our ability to influence stability in the region and sustain our power projection capabilities,” said Col. Kristen Thompson, 380th Expeditionary Operations Group commander.

F-35A print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

Photo credit: Senior Airman Duncan C. Bevan / U.S. Air Force

Share this article

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.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices