F-35 fighters from the air forces of the US and Israel flew together over Israel during the third iteration of exercise Enduring Lightning III.
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 earlier this week.
Additionally, 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.”
During the exercise, the F-35s trained to their primary mission set of offensive counter air. Both US and Israeli F-35s faced exercise surface and air adversaries with the goal of achieving an objective at a simulated target area.
“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-35I’s,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Redmond, 421st EFS commander. “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.”