Military Capabilities

Israeli Adirs confirmed as first F-35s to strike targets

23 May 2018

The IAF announced in December 2017 that its new F-35Is had been declared operational. Source: US Air Force

Key Points

  • The IAF commander revealed on 22 May that F-35Is have carried out airstrikes in recent months.
  • One of the missions may have involved deep incursion to hit a target at Aleppo airport with Small Diameter Bombs on 29 April.

Israeli Air Force (IAF) Lockheed Martin F-35I Adir multirole fighters have carried out their first airstrikes against enemy targets, IAF commander Major General Amikam Norkin revealed on 22 May.

“I think we are the first to attack with [the] F-35 in the Middle East,” Maj Gen Norkin said during a speech to visiting air force chiefs during a conference. Displaying a photograph showing an F-35 flying over Beirut, he added, “I’m not sure about other areas, but as you can see here, we already attacked, and this is the first time that we are talking about this issue.

“Our main goal for the short term is to integrate the fifth-generation [F-35] airplane with the fourth-generation squadrons,” he said. “[It’s] a huge challenge and I think we started to understand the huge potential of this platform.”

Responding to those comments later in the day, Rick Edwards, executive vice-president of Lockheed Martin International, told reporters in Israel, “I’m not surprised at all that Israel is the first” F-35 operator to use the aircraft to carry out strikes.

Edwards also confirmed that “Israel will integrate its weapons of choice in the plane”. While he did not identify what munitions the IAF intends to use with its F-35I, he said, “I don’t see a concern about Rafael products integrating” and that the two companies are continuing talks on this topic.

Rafael makes the Python 5 and I-Derby air-to-air missiles and SPICE family of guided bombs.

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