Israel’s F-35 “Adir” aircraft is preparing to become fully operational in the country’s Air Force (IAF) next month in an effort to stymie Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian-backed proxies in Syria, according to a report published October 29.
The Hebrew name Adir translates to “mighty one” or “awesomeness,” according to the Times of Israel. Under a special agreement between Washington and Tel Aviv, the Israeli Air Force is the only military branch in the world authorized to modify the F-35, in part because the two nations share a lot of technology with another, and also because Israel is apparently preparing for war at any moment.
The Israeli F-35I is “an intelligence-gathering machine in a league of its own” as a result of the stealth capabilities that take it beyond the powers of IAF F-15 and F-16s, according to a report by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
The costly warplane can “evade various enemy radar systems deployed in the northern arena” and is poised to “play a key role in Israel’s quest to stop Iran and its proxies from creating a threatening military outpost in Syria,” the report says.
The F-35I is also “well-suited for the mission of selectively targeting the ongoing Iranian-Hezbollah weapons trafficking program,” the report adds.
As far as Israel-specific modifications are concerned, in 2016, Israel Aerospace Industries announced it would add a command and control suite in addition to the jets’ basic programming. The weapons bay will also be unique to the F-35I to fit Israeli-made precision guided munitions and long-range cruise missiles.
Israel has allocated funds for 50 F-35s to date. As of September 16, Lockheed had delivered seven of the jets to IDF.
The military will conduct an analysis of alternatives before purchasing more F-35 aircraft. The IAF initially planned to buy 75 or 100 units, but “with all the existing limitations,” the F-35 presents, “we cannot ignore the need to meticulously assess the face of the future, especially with regard to air combat platforms, which are so expensive, critical and [subject to] rapidly changing technologies,” according to a September 25 Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee report.