Gaza is an action field for F-35 Adir, F-16I Sufa, and F-15I Ra’am

The Israel Defense Forces, unwavering in their resolve to eradicate Hamas, are meticulously executing their retaliatory maneuvers in Gaza. Bearing the codename Operation Swords of Iron, this military endeavor is poised to be the most prolonged and lethal combat encountered in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip since the inception of Israel. 

Israel struck Gaza, killing terrorists and a Hamas commander
Photo credit: AFP, Mahmud Hams

In anticipation of a potential terrestrial incursion into the enclave, the IDF has enlisted the services of 300,000 reservists over the preceding fortnight. Prior to the eventuality of such an incursion, the Israeli Air Force is committed to persistently performing airstrikes on Gaza to dismantle Hamas infrastructure, neutralize personnel, and obliterate military establishments. 

The principal facilitators of Israel’s aerial advances thus far have been their American-engineered fleet of F-35 Lightning IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and F-15 Eagles.

New version of the 5th-generation F-35 stealth fighter arrives in Israel for testing
Photo credit: The Drive

The F-35 is named Adir

In 2010, the Israeli Air Force [IAF] marked a milestone as the inaugural recipient of a bespoke modification of the fifth-generation F-35 fighter aircraft, an initiative forged by a consortium of nine nations. A dedicated contingent of industry specialists places this aircraft, colloquially known as the “Mighty One”, on a pedestal, branding it the crowning achievement of contemporary aviation prowess. 

Besides being furnished with domestically developed air-to-air projectiles and precision bombs, the Israeli-optimized F-35 variant is augmented with a helmet-mounted display exclusive to the IAF. This enhancement, utilized in conjunction with advanced datalink functionalities, serves to fortify the IAF’s data assimilation and processing capabilities with a heightened level of sophistication. 

F-35I Adir is a 'monster', with its own frequency hopping EW system
Photo credit: IAF

Of special note, the aircraft ascends to supremacy in the electronic warfare realm. Thanks to its unparalleled system, the F-35 displays an instinctive flair at detecting and cataloging antagonistic frequencies, enabling it to effectively neutralize or incapacitate adversary networks with minimal fuss. However, the F-35’s superlative proficiencies encounter an Achilles heel in range limitations, leaving the IAF with a conundrum over conducting long-haul missions absent of the requisite refueling.

The F-16 is named Sufa

The Israeli Air Force [IAF] operates the most extensive F-16 fleet outside the U.S. Air Force, boasting over 300 airframes. The Sufa, like the Adir, is equipped with a plethora of homegrown features, such as conformal fuel tanks that enhance the aircraft’s flight range by increasing its fuel capacity by 50%. 

Aside from next-level electronic warfare mechanisms, the Sufa is distinctly formidable. Detailed by Airforce Technology, the F16I is armed with the Rafael Python 5 air-to-air missile. This Python 5 missile features lock-on-after-launch capabilities and employs imaging infrared guidance. The advanced seeker utilizes a dual-wavelength focal plane array and is furnished with effective infrared countermeasures. 

Israeli F-16I Sufa fighter jet
Photo credit: IAF

In the recent week, the IAF has released footage on Tiwtter showcasing its Sufa. They seem to be armed with four GBU-31 JDAM bombs. The Israeli F-16s were also armed with a pair of air-to-air missiles.

The F-15 is named Ra’am

The F-15 “Thunder” has consistently been a significant component of the Israeli Air Force [IAF], since it came into service over forty years ago. Owing to its impressive capability of carrying an enormous load of 11.5 tons, comprising of both weaponry and auxiliary fuel, the F-15 “Thunder”, colloquially known as the Ra’am, evidently remains an invaluable resource for the IAF. 

Gaza is an action field for F-35 Adir, F-16I Sufa, and F-15I Ra'am
Photo by TSGT Kevin J. Gruenwald, USAF

In addition to the aforementioned traits, these potent fighters are equipped with APG-701 radar systems. These systems afford them the ability to detect terrestrial targets, inclusive of missile-launching systems, located nearly 40 miles distanced. 

The Ra’am boasts a rich combat legacy, with appearances in the 2007 Lebanon War, the Gaza War, and Operation Pillar of Defense. Its storied history and robust capabilities undeniably make the Ra’am an indispensable tool in the IAF’s ongoing fight against Hamas.

Documented use of the F-35 Adir

The Israeli military has shown a demonstrated willingness to leverage its weaponry. Particularly the advanced aircraft F-35 Adir. Here is an example of Israel’s use of the F-35. 

As BulgarianMilitary.com reported back in 2022, Israel pioneered the engagement of F-35 Adir stealth fighters, the fifth generation of its kind, in heated combat. This development transpired when Israeli forces intercepted two Iranian drones – out of an inbound trio – in March of the previous year. This event therefore registers Israel as the earliest officially recorded country to engage an antagonist aircraft in an F-35-orchestrated dogfight. 

Israel unveiled documents

Stealthy-F-35s-'Adir'-is-filmed-killing-two-Iranian-Shahed-UAVs-
Photo credit: The Drive

On 6 February, Israel unveiled pertinent documents, inclusive of footage capturing the successful neutralization of one of Iran’s two drones. The origin of this footage is opaque – it could seed from the pilot’s helmet display or the aircraft’s installed electro-optical apparatus. 

Stealthy-F-35s-'Adir'-is-filmed-killing-two-Iranian-Shahed-UAVs-
Photo credit: The Drive

Testimonials from pilots integrated in the skirmish reveal interesting data. The radar and terrestrial air defense systems identified a ‘drone’ Iranian triad. Presumably, they said, the Iranian drones were the Shahed-197 or Shahed-161. These drones are widely believed to be derivatives of the American RQ-170 Sentinel, albeit markedly scaled down and independently powered. Of the three drones, an F-35 Adir apprehended two while an electronic warfare system neutralized the third. 

The Israeli military claims that the deployment of these drones was orchestrated by Iranian proxies. They operated from Iraqi or Syrian territories. Also they have activated the drones. Israel’s Defense Ministry says these drones are usually armed. They [drones] are an element of the arsenals of entities in conflict with Israel. By entities, Israel means Hamas.

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