The Israeli Air Force declared its second “Adir” F-35 squadron operational, approximately half a year after the unit was stood up in January this year.
Following the milestone, the 116th (“Lions of the South”) Squadron will take an active part in the IAF’s operational activity.
Before being announced as operational, the squadron was required to undergo a long process, during which it gained experience in various fields – everything from defining training processes to planning the squadron’s tactics.
“The operational fitness inspection provides an official seal of approval for the operational capability of the 116th Squadron to carry out all the missions of the ‘Adir’ division. The squadron’s tasks include its management during routine and periods of war, as well as maintaining functional continuity,” explained Maj. Edi, the squadron’s technical officer.
Israel declared operational capability for the fifth-generation fighter in 2017, and has used reportedly used the aircraft in a number of combat operations. The defense ministry itself, however, never revealed many details about the operations undertaken by the Adir aircraft, as the jets are referred to locally.
Israel is expected to be second-largest international F-35 operator with 50 units on order and options for additional 25 to 50 aircraft. As it currently stands, the largest F-35 operator outside the US will be Japan with 150 units on order.