American and Israeli F-35s trained together earlier this week, in the second bilateral exercise between the two countries focusing on Joint Strike Fighter operations.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command and the Israeli Air Force conducted “Enduring Lightning II” on Aug. 2 over Southern Israel. F-35Is with the IAF’s 140th Squadron flew with 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35As and a KC-10 from the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. A Gulfstream G550 “Nachshon” from the IAF’s 122nd Squadron flew command and control for the exercise.
The exercise tested all specialties of the F-35 and participant aircraft including in-air refueling, engaging targets, and command and control, an Air Force press release said.
“The two air forces maintain close cooperation, including mutual learning and sharing of lessons learned,” an Israeli Defense Forces statement said.
Israel was the first foreign country to buy F-35’s, and has agreed to buy 50 aircraft for $1.5 billion. Lockheed Martin has delivered 14, so far. The IAF named the plane “Adir,” which means “Mighty One” in Hebrew. In addition to the two Enduring Lightning exercises, Israeli and U.S. F-35s also flew together alongside United Kingdom jets in a June 2019 “Tri-Lightning” event.
“The Americans are our number one partner,” the head of the IAF’s International Exercises Department said about the first “Enduring Lightning” exercise in a March press release. “I see great importance in cooperating on the most advanced plane in our collection with us as hosts.”