U.S. Air Force Central Command and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted the exercise “Enduring Lightning II” on Aug. 2, 2020 in the skies over southern Israel. The IAF’s 140th Squadron, which operates the “Adir” (F-35I) fighter jet, trained alongside the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s 421st Fighter Squadron and 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. The 421st FS operates the F-35A Lightning II and the 908th EARS flies the KC-10 Extender, which is an air refueling platform. It is the second joint exercise between the two countries involving the F-35.
The Israeli Air Force 122nd Squadron also participated in the exercise. The squadron operates the “Nachshon” aircraft and is responsible for conducting air traffic control. The two air forces maintain close cooperation, including mutual learning and sharing of lessons learned. This exercise illustrates the close relationship between the air forces and military echelons and enhances the cooperation of knowledge and capabilities of the F-35 and the IAF’s operational abilities. USAFCENT delivers dominant coalition air power to secure and stabilize the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
The Israeli Air Force declared the F-35 operationally capable on 6 December 2017. The F-35, which is an advanced fifth generation fighter, is able to engage both aerial and ground threats. During the exercise, all specialties of the participants were needed from command and control to air refueling to engaging targets in order to neutralize the threat in each proposed scenario. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.