After seven months of integration and preparation for IOC (Initial Operational Capability), the second “Adir” F-35I Squadron is on the horizon as its establishment team is expected to begin working next summer
“Every day something happens in the squadron for the first time: it began with the first flight, continued with the our first ‘dogfight’, the first time we flew in a formation of three and four, the first time we refueled in the air, the first time we loaded armament and the first time we dropped it. It is an absolutely fascinating process”, shared Lt. Col. Yotam, Commander of the “Golden Eagle” Squadron, which operated the “Adir” (F-35I) from Nevatim AFB.
Photography: Maj. Ofer
What is the Fifth Generation?
“Integrating this aircraft is extremely complex. It is a long maturation process and it is fundamentally different to the way we integrated other aircraft such as the ‘Sufa’ (F-16I) ‘Baz’ (F-15I) or the F-4 Phantom”, explained Lt. Col. Yotam. “In contrast to them, in this case we are integrating an aircraft that is still being developed. Earlier generation aircraft had software updates, but in the ‘Adir’, basic systems are updates as well as software. The F-35’s development process is completely different from any other aircraft’s”.
“What is the fifth generation?” asked Brig. Gen. Eyal Grinboym, Nevatim AFB Commander. “The fifth generation combines the capabilities of a fourth generation fighter along with stealth. Once these capabilities are combined in a single aircraft, it becomes fifth gen. It makes the IAF rethink the way it applies its force”.
Apart from its stealth, the “Adir” is equipped with many other innovative elements. Mission debriefing, for example, a cornerstone in the IAF’s activity, is also advanced to the next generation thanks to various systems built into the F-35. “The primary difference in debriefing the F-35 is that the aircraft can ‘talk’ to us. When an ‘Adir’ pilot lands, we begin debriefing the sortie in the HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter)”, shared Brig. Gen. Eyal. “Before we approach the aircraft for maintenance, we unload a tape which details the aircraft’s data”.
Photography: Maj. Ofer
There is no telling what the next campaign will be like, but there is no doubt that the “Adir” F-35I will serve as a key element in maintaining the IAF’s air supremacy. “The fact that the F-35 allows us to operate in every theatre and any area, with full supremacy, is the reason we acquired it. Inserting a stealthy platform into a threatened environment allows me to work in shorter times, be lethal and effective and enable air supremacy”, stated Nevatim AFB Commander.
Additional “Adir” (F-35I) stealth fighters are expected to be integrated in the “Golden Eagle” Squadron and the IAF is already thinking forward to a second F-35I squadron, whose establishment team will begin working in about a year, in the summer of 2018.
“After seven months of integration, we feel a little more experienced and confident”, shared Lt. Col. Yotam. “All the people working on the ‘Adir’, under its wings or in its cockpit, understand that we are in the midst of a historical process which is deeply impacting the IAF, state of Israel and the Middle East in general”.
Photography: Celia Garion