Upon the entrance of the “Adir” (F-35I) into IAF service and the decommission of the “Netz” (F-16A/B), the IAF Commander visited both the young and senior squadron, to greet the new generation and say goodbye to the battle hardened weapon

Zohar Boneh

Two weeks have passed since the “Adir” (F-35I) took off for its first flight with an IAF pilot in the cockpit and the squadron has since grown accustomed to the roar of the new engine. Following the flight, the squadron’s maintenance department devoted a few days to study the jet and the aircrew members took off once again only last weekend. All of the pilots who participated in conversion training in the U.S have flown the jet and yesterday, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander, flew it as well.

The IAF Commander arrived at the “Golden Eagle” Squadron in order to feel the fifth generation fighter jet up close. “This is a new generation, a new era, capabilities that we have never seen before”, said Maj. Gen. Eshel after his flight. “It’s not just the jet, it is a part of an entire IAF system that will make it much better, more effective and more operational – in places we haven’t been”.

IAF Commander: “If required, we will act”

Photography: Celia Garion

Comprehensive Changes
The “Adir” (F-35I) fifth generation stealth fighter was integrated in the IAF two weeks ago and is expected to lead a broad conceptual change to the operation of the jet, the squadron and IAF as a whole. “The conceptual change is broad and comprehensive, it impacts a wide number of missions and all arenas”, said Maj. Gen. Eshel.

The conceptual change is all but necessary: The fifth generation fighter requires certain changes and infrastructure adaptations. Various elements such as the advanced simulator, which fully trains and qualifies the aircrew members, changes in the role of the pilots and advanced technological capabilities are only some of the characteristics it holds.

“This flight is the first touch, we must begin understanding what we have here, the potential, and make decisions accordingly”, shared Maj. Gen. Eshel. “I have no doubt that the ‘Adir’ (F-35I) jet, along with the wonderful people here, will bring about a comprehensive change in the IAF.  From the operational world to components of the IAF’s character, its precision, professionalism, instruction and more”.

IAF Commander: “If required, we will act”

Photography: Celia Garion

Focusing on the Needs
The IAF set a goal – making the jet operational a year after landing. Nonetheless, there have been cases in the past where various platforms were used operationally before they were announced as such. Could a similar scenario arise with the “Adir”?

“The IAF is in the process of integrating the jet and training personnel to work on it, this is a professional process that takes time”, the IAF Commander answered. “As we progress and while considering the various needs that will rise – we will examine. In the past, the IAF has operated the aircraft it acquired significantly sooner than expected.”.

IAF Commander: “If required, we will act”

Photography: Celia Garion

“It has nothing – yet it has everything”
Before visiting the young squadron, Maj. Gen. Eshel arrived at the “Flying Dragon” Squadron in order to say goodbye to the “Netz” (F-16A/B) that was decommissioned yesterday after 36 years of service in the IAF. In a ceremony held in Ouvda AFB, the IAF said goodbye to the first of its F-16’s when its engine was turned off for the last time.

IAF Commander: “If required, we will act”

Photography: Ouvda AFB PR

Maj. Gen. Eshel began his journey in the IAF as an A-4 “Skyhawk” pilot. After serving as an instructor in the IAF Flight Academy for two years, he was trained to fly the “Netz” and served as Deputy Commander of the “Negev” Squadron and as the Commander of the squadron’s Instruction Department. “They don’t make aircraft like this anymore. It has nothing – yet it has everything”, said Maj. Gen. Eshel. “It was moving to fly the jet for the last time”.

IAF Commander: “If required, we will act”

Photography: Ouvda AFB PR

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