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A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II sits on the flight line during pre-Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation on Jan. 23, 2018 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

While Israel’s skies are still closed to commercial traffic, four F-35i Adir stealth fighter jets will land in Israel at the beginning of August, including Israeli Air Force’s experimental F-35i that will act as a testbed for the country’s planned modifications.
Another three F-35is will land in Israel in November, bringing the Israel Air Force’s total to 27 out of the 50 set to land in the coming years to make two full squadrons by 2024, the 140th “Golden Eagle” Squadron and the 116th “Lions of the South” Squadron, both based at Nevatim Air Base.



The experimental F-35i “is the only one in the world and unique for the IAF,” a source in the Air Force told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, adding that Israel wanted this plane so that it could integrate and certify unique Israeli technology onto it.
While it will first be based at Nevatim, the experimental plane will later fly out of Tel Nof in central Israel.
Israel is the second country after the United States to have received the joint strike fighter and is the one air force in the Middle East to fly the state-of-the-art aircraft. It is also one of the few to be allowed to modify the advanced fighter.
The IAF was also the first to use the plane in a combat role, using the stealth fighter on operational missions on different fronts in the Middle East in 2018. Since then, the IAF is reported to have used the plane on multiple occasions, including during missions against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.
“The IAF knows how to use the planes unlike any other air force,” the source said.