The “Tri-Lightning 2” joint exercise between the Israeli Air Force, the United States Marine Corps, and the Royal Air Force ended on June 29, 2021. Israeli “Adir” (F-35I) fighter jets trained alongside F-35s from the U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Air Force.
Unlike the first Tri-Lightning in 2019, the focus shifted from defense to attack and training on offensive operations that included attacking high-value targets under the protection of modern air defence systems supported by F-16C Barak Fighting Falcons.
Taking off from the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, the pilots trained in air-to-air combat, air strikes, advanced surface-to-air threats, as well as strikes and other operational scenarios deep in enemy territory. The F-35s were challenged by other aircraft that played the aggressor roles, simulating combat situations between the F-35s and previous generation fighters.
The exercise was designed to demonstrate the interoperability between the U.S., U.K. and Israeli F35s and strengthen regional strategic cooperation between the three countries and share experience in flight operations.
Commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said, “Cooperation with the United States and Britain enable the IAF to strengthen its capabilities and enhance its operational readiness to deal with a wide variety of threats. The Middle East Region is highly dynamic, which requires us to train and prepare for a multitude of scenarios in order to continue effectively ensuring the security of the State of Israel and defend its skies.”
Israel is the first country to use the stealth fighter in combat, making its debut in Operation Guardian of the Walls, which broke out several weeks before the drill began.
Photo: Lt. Col. Eran Kaplan.