The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is currently performing a series of aerial refuelling tests on Adir (F-35I) from Tel-Nof Air Force Base (AFB) in Israel, a significant step towards achieving initial operational capability (IOC).
Adir is Israel's variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and is equipped with the advanced capability to defeat emerging threats.
In collaboration with the ‘Desert Giants’ Squadron from Nevatim AFB, the aerial refuelling tests are being carried out by IAF Flight Test Squadron as part of the stealth fighter’s integration programme.
Three out of four stages have already been performed successfully, according to the IAF.
‘Desert Giants’ Squadron Flight Engineer Department commander major Eran said: "Aerial refuelling is important to maintaining the IAF's long arm.
"At the end of the day, fighter jets need fuel, and that is where we come in. The strategic importance of a tanker aircraft in the sky that can extend a fighter’s air-time or give it a larger range of operation is crucial. Thus, the highest level of professionalism is required of us. We are still learning the F-35I’s operational capabilities and behaviour."
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The aerial refuelling tests are aimed to allow the ‘Adir’ to be refuelled by Israeli tankers in every speed and height permitted by the aircraft's programme block.
These experiments will enable the fighter jet to be refuelled in the air by the "Re'em" (Boeing 707) aircraft, the IAF stated.
During the tests, flight quality and division of labour between the fighter jet and the fuelling aircraft during day and night is evaluated.
The tests are also aimed at ensuring the mechanical propriety of both aircraft.
Image: The aerial refuelling tests are aimed to allow the F-35I ‘Adir’ to be refuelled by Israeli tankers. Photo: courtesy of Flight Test Squadron.