IAF F-35s train with U.S. and UK F-35s for first time

"International cooperation between Israel, the US and Britain strengthens common interests and new and exclusive capabilities in the Middle East," said the Head of the IDF's Air Division.

June 27, 2019 15:42
1 minute read.
US Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs lead a formation of IAF F-35I and RAF F-35B during Tri-Lightning

US Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs, center, lead a formation of IAF F-35I, right, and Royal Air Force F-35B, left, during Exercise Tri-Lightning over the Mediterranean Sea, June 25, 2019. (photo credit: US AIR FORCE/STAFF SGT. KEIFER BOWES)


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Earlier this week, IAF F-35s took part in an international exercise with the United States and the United Kingdom for the first time, an IDF spokesperson announced on Wednesday.

During the exercise, known as Tri-Lightning, Israeli F-35s trained alongside F-35s from the US and UK over the Mediterranean Sea. IAF forces practiced defense scenarios against changing threats in various advanced fighter aircraft, including the F-35.

The F-35s from the three nations acted as primarily friendly players in the Tri-Lightning exercise while a variety of other aircraft played the “aggressor roles,” according to a US Air Force press release. This simulated “realistic combat situations” between the advanced F-35s and previous generation fighters.

The exercise was part of planned training and “presented a unique opportunity for joint training of the fifth generation combat aircraft, enabling the cooperation between the corps and the development of joint capabilities,” according to the IDF spokesperson.

“The exercise, which was held for the first time yesterday, is an international F-35 exercise, reflecting the close cooperation between the forces,” said Brig.-Gen Amnon Ein Dar, head of the IAF Air Division. “International cooperation between Israel, the US and Britain strengthens common interests and new and exclusive capabilities in the Middle East.”

“We build capacity with our strategic partners to harness our air component’s capabilities and skills,” said Lt.-Gen. Joseph Guastella, US Air Forces Central Command commander, according to the US Air Force press release. “The transatlantic strategic relationship between the US and our allies and partners has been forged over the past seven decades and is built on a foundation of shared values, experience and vision.”

“Tri-Lightning was an exercise that had been planned for months and it provided an outstanding opportunity for the squadron to operate and learn from our fellow F-35 community,” said UK Wing Commander John Butcher, Squadron 617 commanding officer, according to the US Air Force press release. “In addition it allowed us to share and gain valuable experience that we will be able to exploit during future training and potentially operational deployments, whether embedded on the [HMS Queen Elizabeth] or from overseas air bases.”

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