The first three countries to employ the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) in combat have come together for an inaugural trilateral training exercise geared at increasing interoperability and cross-user learning.
Aircraft from Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States came together for Exercise 'Tri-Lightning', conducted over the eastern Mediterranean on 25 June. Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35I Adirs from Nevatim Air Base in Israel, UK Royal Air Force (RAF)/Royal Navy (RN) F-35B Lightnings from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, and US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Lightning IIs from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates performed a series of simulated air-defence operations over one day.
As noted by the USAF which reported the event, "This exercise is a demonstration of the interoperability between the US, UK, and Israel using the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35I, respectively". The F-35s played the role of friendly, or 'blue', forces against other aircraft types playing the role of enemy, or 'red', forces.
The disclosure of Exercise 'Tri-Lightning' came on the same day that the UK announced that it had used the F-35 in combat for the first time, with armed overwatch sorties being flown over Iraq and Syria.
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