Israeli F-35s undertake first overseas joint exercises

Isa Khan

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Israeli Lockheed Martin F-35I Adirs have flown their first overseas training exercises, operating alongside Italian, UK, and US aircraft during ‘Falcon Strike 2021'. Six Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35Is (the Israeli-specific variant of the conventional take-off and landing [CTOL] F-35A) have joined an undisclosed number of Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) F-35As, Royal Air Force (RAF) short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs, and US Air Force (USAF) F-35As at Amendola Air Base in southern Italy.

“Our ‘Adir' Division has recently touched down in Italy as part of its first-ever overseas deployment and will begin training alongside our friends from the AMI, RAF, and the USAF,” the IAF said on its official Facebook page. “Throughout the exercise, the IAF will drill a wide variety of operational scenarios to enhance the operational capabilities of the F-35 while strengthening international co-operation”.

Aimed at increasing allied interoperability between fifth-generation aircraft such as the F-35 and other fourth-generation aircraft, ‘Falcon Strike 2021' is running from 7 to 15 June. The international F-35s will act as the ‘blue force', operating against a ‘red force' of other AMI aircraft types. According to Israeli national media reports, the IAF is also contributing a Gulfstream G550-based ‘Eitam' airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and a pair of Boeing KC-135 ‘Reem' tankers. The AMI is said to be contributing a Boeing KC-767 tanker and a G550 AEW&C aircraft, while the RAF is operating an Airbus A330 Voyager tanker.


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