The Israeli Air Force is holding a week-long large scale drill simulating a multi-front war with all the platforms and squadrons, including for the first time the F-35i Adir stealth fighter jet, like reported by jpost.com.
The drill, which began on Sunday June 16th, includes all aircraft from combat squadrons, helicopters and transport planes as well as troops from the Aerial Defense Division and the IAF control units.
“All of the air force is in the air,” a senior Israel Air Force officer told reporters on Tuesday, adding that troops “have to make hard decisions in real-time like during war.”
The F-35, which took part in the drill for the first time, has “increased the capabilities and lethality of the Air Force” the senior officer said, adding that the jet not only allows the IAF to strike the enemy quickly but gets them into areas where the IAF “hasn’t been able to get to before.”
Built by Lockheed Martin, the jets have an extremely low radar signature allowing the jet to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory as well as evade advanced missile defense systems like the S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems which have been deployed in countries such as Syria.
With close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, pilots of the stealth jet have unparalleled access to information while in the air.
The drill is aimed at improving the readiness and efficiency of the IAF to cope with a multi-front wartime scenario including numerous attacks over a short period of time as well as assistance to ground forces.
While it is simulating a multi-front combat scenario, the focus is on Israel’s northern front “where the enemy is the most challenging” the senior officer said.
Since the last war with Hezbollah in 2006, the Shiite Lebanese group has significantly increased their rocket arsenal and Israel’s homefront is expected to be bombarded by thousands of rockets and missiles. The group has also significantly increased their battlefield knowledge from their time in Syria and is believed to have advanced weapons systems.
Hezbollah, called a “terror army” by senior IDF officers, is believed to have technology and capabilities stronger than some other armies in the region. Despite losing thousands of fighters in Syria, Hezbollah has grown in strength and military know-how.
As part of the drill, IAF troops are training on hitting the enemy before they are able to launch all their rockets towards the Israeli homefront, and “if they start with thousands of rockets per day we are hoping to be able to make it so there are only a few being launched and to intercept those that are launched,” the senior officer said.
The IAF is also drilling on the real possibility that Hezbollah will target air force bases and aircraft in the sky, he said, explaining that jets will spend less than an hour on the ground following a strike before they are in the air heading towards the next targets.
The senior officer said that the air force is also drilling on its ability to strike the enemy in a fast and lethal manner to make sure that they will not be able to attack the ground troops.
Also on Tuesday Israel President Reuven Rivlin warned Lebanon and Hezbollah against attacking Israel.
“Then, as now, we have and have never had anything against the Lebanese people. Then, as now, it was the terrorist organizations that exploited the weakness of Lebanon, the Lebanese state, to attack the State of Israel and its citizens,” he said during a memorial ceremony for the fallen of the First Lebanon War.
“We warn Hizbullah not to impose Iran’s agenda on Lebanon, and we warn Lebanon not to be a base for attacks on Israel,” he said. “We are not eager to fight. But the IDF is alert and ready to respond to any threat and to any scenario. The State of Israel will not stand idly by and will ensure that citizens of Israel continue to sleep peacefully!”