IAF's second F-35i squadron becomes operational

The 116th Lions of the South squadron is based out of Nevatim in southern Israel.

The IAF's F-35i at a base in southern Israel.  (photo credit: IAF/ALEX AGRONOV)
The IAF's F-35i at a base in southern Israel.
(photo credit: IAF/ALEX AGRONOV)
The Israel Air Force’s second F-35i Adir squadron was officially declared operational on Sunday, six months after it was opened.
The 116th Lions of the South squadron is based at Nevatim Air Base. It will now take part in IAF operational activity.
Over the past week, the squadron underwent an operational fitness inspection, during which its members, aircrew and ground crew were tested on various scenarios that could occur in its operational area.
The operational fitness inspection simulated 72 hours of intensive combat, the IAF said. Amid current regional tensions, one scenario that was simulated was an outbreak of war on all of Israel’s fronts.
“We dealt with situations of missile attacks and were tested on our ability to handle them properly,” Maj. E, the squadron’s technical officer, was quoted as saying. “When missiles hit the squadron, a fire broke out, and there were injuries. They examined our decision-making process, management during combat and ability to maintain functional continuity. That is just one example out of many.”

Israel was the first country to use the F-35 in a combat arena in 2018, just months after it declared operational capability, and continues to use the jet for a range of missions, according to foreign reports.
The F-35 is built by Lockheed Martin. It has a very low radar signature that allows it to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory as well as evade advanced missile-defense systems.
The F-35 is one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets. Pilots of the stealth jet have unparalleled access to information while in the air with a large array of sensors.
The IAF plans to have 27 F-35i Adir aircraft by November and 50 by 2024 to complete two full squadrons.