Allies in the Skies

This week, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) was joined in the air over the Holy Land by her two closest friends — the United States Air Force and England’s Royal Air Force. The Times of Israel’s Judah Ari Gross reports on how these allies are working together to improve their stealth fighter jet technology:

F-35 fighter jets from Israel, the United States and United Kingdom conducted training flights over the Mediterranean Sea Tuesday in the Israeli aircraft’s first-ever international exercise, the military said.

This marked a significant show of military cooperation between the three countries.

The Israel Defense Forces received the fifth-generation stealth fighter from the United States’ Lockheed Martin defense contractor in late 2016 and declared it operational roughly a year later. In 2018, the Israeli Air Force revealed it had used the F-35 operationally — including at least once over Lebanon — making it the first military in the world to do so.

On Tuesday, the United Kingdom said its F-35 fighter jets had also conducted their first missions, flying sorties over Iraq and Syria as part of the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

The joint drill, which included dogfights between the F-35 fighter jets, was dubbed “Tri-Lightning,” a reference to the aircraft’s official designation, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

“The first international air exercise involving Israeli F-35 planes alongside foreign F-35 planes was held yesterday. The exercise was held over the Mediterranean Sea and simulated survival scenarios and defense against varying threats from advanced aircraft, including the F-35 plane,” the IDF said in a statement.

The Israeli Air Force said it planned to hold additional international exercises with the stealth fighter jets in the future in order to “advance its capabilities…”

Tags: aircraft F-35 IAF IDF Israel Judah Ari Gross military Times of Israel UK US-Israel Relations Video

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