The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has re-established the 117th First Jet Squadron as a training squadron in the IAF’s F-35I ‘Adir’ Division.

The reopening ceremony was attended by senior IAF commander major general Amikam Norkin and other IAF commanders.

IAF 117th squadron founding team commander Lieutenant Colonel N said: “The foundations for creating an independent unit that trains and certifies ‘Adir’ (F-35I) pilots were set back when the first ‘Adir’ squadron was established, but a decision was made to hold off on the process at the time.

“After re-evaluating the future of the IAF’s fifth-generation division, it was decided to open the squadron. The next decision that remained, which squadron will be selected for the task?”

In September last year, the IAF closed the 117th First Squadron, the country’s oldest squadron of F-16 fighter jets, 67 years after it was opened.

The reestablishment of the squadron as an ‘Adir’ (F-35I) squadron took less than a year.

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The squadron will initially focus on training IAF pilots to operate the F-35I. The course will help pilots get accustomed to the aircraft’s parts and systems, and perform simulator flights, ground drills, and training sorties.

It will also serve as a training centre for the operational squadrons of the Adir Division.

Nevatim AFB, commander brigadier general Omer Tishler said: “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the 117th squadron. A squadron with a rich legacy that operated for nearly seven decades, fought in all of Israel’s wars, and performed sensitive operational missions until the very moment when it closed.

“This step makes our vision into a reality. These days, the ‘Adir’ division performs a wide variety of operational missions in various arenas, leads ground-breaking international cooperation, and enhances the IAF’s operational capabilities.”