The U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets assigned to the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, conducted a bilateral exercise in southern Israel, about 60 km north of Eilat, in support of Blue Flag 2019 exercise.
The Israeli and U.S. Air Forces demonstrated their partnership and combined air power by focusing on improving interoperability and build relationships between the U.S. and multinational partners and allies.
During the exercise, dozens of aircraft, both international and Israeli, practices air-to-air and air-to-ground combat scenarios, dealing with advanced SAM threats as well as enemy combat scenarios.
This exercise is the first international “Fifth Generation” exercise taking place in Israel involving the F-35 aircraft.
The Blue Flag exercise has a significant impact on the Air Force, the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel as a whole. The exercise includes over a thousand aircrew, technical and administrative personnel from different Air Forces, including newest Israeli F-35I Adir stealth fighter jets.
The Jerusalem Post has reported that Adir is an advanced stealth aircraft. Built by Lockheed Martin, the jets have an extremely low radar signature, allowing them to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory, as well as evade advanced missile defense systems like the S-300 and S-400, which have been deployed in countries such as Syria.
With close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, pilots of the stealth jet have an unparalleled access to information while in the air.
The National Interest also reported that the first nine F-35Is entered operational service in December 6, 2017, with the 140 “Golden Eagles” Squadron, based at Nevatim Airbase near Be’er Sheva.
In July 2019, Israel received two more F-35s, bringing the number of F-35s in the Israeli Air Force to 16. It has agreed to buy a total of 50.