The Israeli Air Force’s second squadron of F-35i ‘Adir’ stealth fighter jets was officially inaugurated on Thursday at Nevatim air base in the country’s south.
The ceremony was attended by senior IAF commanders including IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin as well as officials from Lockheed Martin.
The 116th squadron, nicknamed “Lions of the South,” will join the 140th “Golden Eagle” squadron. Several planes from the 140th squadron will be transferred to the 116th squadron until additional F-35i land in Israel.
The Israeli Air Force currently has 20 F-35 Adir aircraft and is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024. Of the remaining 30 planes, a total of six planes are expected to land in Israel this year, including the IAF’s experimental F-35 which will act as a testbest for the country’s planned modifications.
The two squadrons making up the ‘Adir’ Division in the IAF used to fly the F-16 ‘Netz’ fighter jet which was decommissioned in 2015.
“We chose to integrate the new aircraft into a squadron with a long-lasting legacy instead of establishing a new one” Lt. Col. N was quoted by the IAF as saying in April. “The 116th Squadron has existed for many years, and the ‘Adir’ is the fifth type of aircraft operated by the squadron.”