US conducts joint F-35 aircraft training exercise with UK and Israel

28 June 2019 (Last Updated June 28th, 2019 12:15)

The US, Israel and the UK have combined forces to conduct a trilateral training exercise that involved the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft from the three countries.

US conducts joint F-35 aircraft training exercise with UK and Israel
US Air Force F-35As, centre, lead a formation of Israeli F-35I, right, and RAF F-35B, left. Credit: USAF / Staff Sgt Keifer Bowes.

The US, Israel and the UK have combined forces to conduct a trilateral training exercise that involved the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft from the three countries.

The F-35s trained together in Exercise Tri-Lightning over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea on 25 June.

The one-day defensive counter air exercise involved friendly and adversary aircraft and consisted of active and passive air defence operations.

It was aimed at enhancing interoperability between the US F-35A, British F-35B and Israeli F-35I.

US Air Forces Central Command commander lieutenant general Joseph Guastella said: “We build capacity with our strategic partners to harness our air component’s capabilities and skills.

“The transatlantic strategic relationship between the US and our allies and partners has been forged over the past seven decades and is built on a foundation of shared values, experience and vision.”

The USAF’s F-35As were based out of the Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE. The F-35Bs belonging to the British Royal Air Force (RAF) took off from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, and F-35Is of the Israeli Air Force flew from Nevatim Air Base, Israel.

UK Squadron 617 commanding officer wing commander John Butcher said: “Tri-Lightning was an exercise, which had been planned for months and it provided an outstanding opportunity for the squadron to operate and learn from our fellow F-35 community.

“The transatlantic strategic relationship between the US and our allies and partners has been forged over the past seven decades.”

“In addition it allowed us to share and gain valuable experience that we will be able to exploit during future training and potentially operational deployments, whether embedded on the Queen Elizabeth or from overseas air bases.”

The F-35s involved in the exercise played as primary friendly, or blue, force players.

Exercise Tri-Lightning also involved several other jets that acted as adversary aircraft. This created realistic combat scenarios between the F-35s and previous generation fighters.

Israel chief of air staff brigadier general Amnon Ein-Dar noted that the training exercise provided an opportunity to bolster shared capabilities and cooperation amongst the three allied nations.

The F-35 JSF is a global programme involving several countries that are looking to acquire advanced fifth-generation stealth capability.