The US and Israel conducted an air exercise on Sunday involving F-35 jets from one another’s air force.
This is the first time Israel Air Force (IAF) F-35I "Adir" jets participated in an exercise alongside USAF F-35s in Israel. In June 2019, the IAF jets took part in drills with USAF and Royal Air Force F-35s; and in November, with Italian F-35s.
The pilots of the two air forces did not meet prior to the joint exercise and only coordinated maneuvers in the air due the coronavirus outbreak.
"Air Force History: For the first time, IAF 'Adir' (F-35I) aircraft trained alongside US Air Force F-35s from 388th Fighter Wing in Israel," the IAF said in a statement Monday.
"The 'Enduring Lightning' exercise in southern Israel - joint training between Israeli 'Adir' F35I aircraft from the IAF's 140 squadron (Golden Eagle), alongside F-35 aircraft operated by the USAF's 34th Fighter Squadron, came to an end yesterday. The IAF's 122 squadron (Nahshon), which operates the Gulfstream G-500 aircraft, also participated in the exercise during which the teams faced various aerial and ground threats in advanced 5th generation aircraft," the IAF said.
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) noted that the drills were planned in advance as a part of the 2020 exercise schedule, but were adapted to fit the new reality of the quarantine caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. Participants in the drill never met in person and the entire exercise was carried out in the air, to safeguard service personnel's health and well-being.
The two countries held a joint aerial exercise between March 24 -26. Another drill, Juniper Cobra 20, scheduled for March, was shelved as "a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of all participants".