Second “Adir” Squadron Becomes Operational
(Source: Israeli Air Force; issued Aug. 06, 2020)
The Israeli Air Force stood up its second F-35I squadron in January, and the unit has now reached operational status after simulating 72 hours of intensive combat as part of its operational fitness inspection. (IAF photo)
About six months ago, the 116th "Lions of the South" Squadron's personnel stood proudly as four "Adir" (F-35I) fighter jets flew over them. The date was January 16, 2020, the opening of the second squadron to operate the most advanced aircraft in the IAF. Today (Thursday), the squadron marked another milestone and officially became operational. From now on, the "Lions of the South" are ready to take part in the IAF's extensive operational activity.

Facing the Unknown

Before being announced as operational, the squadron was required to undergo a long process, during which it gained experience in various fields - everything from defining training processes to planning the squadron's tactics. For the last six months, the squadron's personnel were met with the various scenarios that they were required to face as part of their preparation for the operational fitness inspection that took place this week - they will be prepared for real situations. "The operational fitness inspection provides an official seal of approval for the operational capability of the 116th Squadron to carry out all the missions of the ‘Adir' division. The squadron's tasks include its management during routine and periods of war, as well as maintaining functional continuity", explained Maj. Edi, the squadron's technical officer.

The 116th Squadron's personnel were not exposed in advance to the scenarios they had to face as part of the test week, just as during combat they will not always be able to anticipate what will happen. "The inspection simulated the operational arena and the current regional tensions. Several scenarios led to a simulated war on all fronts, and aircrew members took off for missions in all of Israel's regions", shared Maj. G, leader of the operational fitness inspection and aircrew member in the squadron.

Some of the operational commands already reached the squadron last week, to give the aircrew members enough time to prepare for their aerial tasks. "Various personnel from different departments in the IAF's HQ came to the squadron to examine us", said Maj. G. "During the IAF's continuous activity and combat, these people give operational commands to the different squadrons - the commands that describe the mission, the desired result and the policy of action set by the Commander of the IAF. We are required to take those operational commands and plan and execute them".

It All Comes Down to This

The operational fitness inspection simulated 72 hours of intensive combat. "We worked 24 hours a day, nonstop", described Maj. Edi. "Soldiers, officers and NCOs alike, worked for 16 hours a day and rested for the remaining eight. The squadron operated in shifts, to simulate its activity during warfare".

Throughout the week, the squadron's technical department was tested on many different scenarios that can affect its way of functioning. "We dealt with situations of missile attacks, and were tested on our ability to handle them properly", said Maj. Edi. "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. There wasn't a single scenario that we were not prepared for".

The Start of the "Adir" Era

"The entire squadron participated in the operational fitness inspection, ranging from new soldiers who arrived this month to reserves who were specially recruited to take part", said Maj. G. "From the moment the squadron was established to this day, we were accompanied by a feeling of desire to be part of a team. We all want to succeed and be the best we possibly can. Throughout the past half-year, the 116th Squadron's personnel gave one hundred percent of their energy and abilities to ensure that it would be among the leading squadrons in the IAF. There is anticipation and a feeling of preparedness - we came prepared to the operational fitness and now get to prove ourselves".

What will the 116th Squadron look like as of now? "The next significant milestone will be our first operational mission", concluded Maj. G. "We are still a small squadron, and will continue to recruit new people and aircraft in the coming months".


New "Adir" (F-35I) Aircraft Land In Israel
(Source: Israeli Air Force; issued Aug. 05, 2020)
Yesterday (Tueday), four additional "Adir" (F-35I) aircraft landed in Israel. The new aircraft will join the array of "Adir" jets in the IAF that became operational in December 2017.

For the first time, one of the aircraft will arrive at the Flight Testing Center at Tel-Nof AFB. The Flight Testing Center Squadron conducts the IAF's experimental flights on all of its aircraft. The squadron consists of aircrew members, RPAV operators, and engineers, who plan and conduct flight experiments in a wide variety of fields. Experimental aircraft are special aircraft that have been equipped during production with advanced testing systems.

The aircraft was developed to match the unique requirements of the IAF and will assist the Flight Testing Center in building a development division for F-35 aircraft with emphasis on munitions, advanced operating systems, and more.

With the delivery of the test aircraft (AS-15), Israel will be the first country to operate an F-35 test aircraft on its territory other than the United States.

The aircraft was designed with signal and information collection capabilities with specific equipment. It is a significant milestone for the IAF and provides a new ability to conduct unique test flights with the "Adir" in the present and future.

The three other aircraft arrived at the 140th ("Golden Eagle") Squadron, the IAF's first "Adir" squadron, which was established in 2016.

The continued acquisition of "Adir" aircraft is another expression of the long-standing military cooperation between Israel and the United States, which continues to yield optimal results in the strengthening and enhancement process. The IAF is the first air force in the world besides the United States to operationally operate the "Adir" (F-35) aircraft.

The "Adir" squadrons add another tier to the IAF's operational and strategic capabilities, which will preserve its superiority in all its activity, most importantly protecting Israel's skies and security.


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