USAF, Israeli Air Force Team Up for Mideast F-35 Training

F-35As from the U.S. Air Force’s 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and F-35I “Adir” fighters from the Israeli Air Force’s 116th Squadron teamed up for Enduring Lightning III, a joint offensive counter air training exercise over Israel, on Oct. 12, according to an Air Forces Central Command release.

“U.S. and Israeli F-35s faced exercise surface and air adversaries with the goal of achieving an objective at a simulated target area,” it stated.

U.S. and Israeli F-35s participate in exercise Enduring Lightning III
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs and Israeli Air Force F-35I Adirs fly in formation during exercise Enduring Lightning III over Israel, on Oct. 12, 2020. Photo: Senior Airman Duncan C. Bevan

Additional USAF and IAF aircraft and personnel supported the fighter squadrons during the exercise.

The 908th and 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadrons provided refueling backup via KC-10 and KC-135 tankers, the release noted, while F-16I fighters from the IAF’s 115th Squadron acted as “a simulated adversary force” and its 122nd Squadron—also known as the “Nachson Squadron”—handled air traffic control.

A U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender refuels a USAF F-35A in support of exercise Enduring Lightning III over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility on Oct. 12, 2020. Photo: Senior Airman Duncan C. Bevan

AFCENT Commander Lt. Gen. Gregory M. Guillot praised the Enduring Lightning series of exercises as “invaluable opportunities” for participants to boost readiness and enhance relationships.

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