Israel wrapped up its largest military drill in years on Wednesday, with thousands of troops from the army, navy and air force simulating a future war with the militant Lebanese Hezbollah group amid fears that Iran would draw its Shiite proxy into the recent growing tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Israel made history this week by being the very first nation anywhere in the world to hold war games using the incredibly powerful new F-35 Adir stealth fighter jet. The Hebrew word “Adir” means “mighty ones” and these planes certainly are that. It gives the Israeli Air Force advantages in the air that no other nation in the Middle East currently has.
“Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.” Joel 3:11-13 (KJV)
Made by Lockheed Martin and purchased from the United States, Israel has taken the F-35 and has heavily upgraded it to be even superior to the planes now flying in the United States Air Force. They are the only foreign nation to have done this. Clearly God is preparing Israel and the Jews for something quite intense in the very near future. As the drill concluded today in Israel, Netanyahu remarked “I say to our enemies: The military has very great destructive power. Don’t test us.” That may be the biggest understatement of the year.
The Israeli Air Force began a week-long drill on Sunday, simulating a multi-front war with all the platforms and squadrons, including for the first time the F-35i Adir stealth fighter jet.
FROM ABC NEWS: The Israeli military said the four-day exercise had been planned long in advance and focused on the immersion of all branches against threats emanating from Israel’s north. It included a large deployment of unmanned aircraft and the first use of the F-35 stealth fighter planes to prepare for scenarios of missile attacks and underground infiltrations from Lebanon.
But rising tensions between Iran and the United States clearly served as a backdrop.
Iran recently announced it was breaking its compliance with the nuclear deal with world powers amid the renewal of crippling American sanctions. The Trump administration has ordered 1,000 more troops to the Middle East amid accusations that Iran was behind a series of strikes against oil tankers near the Persian Gulf.
Israeli officials fear Iran may try to mobilize Hezbollah as its most potent toll against Israel in a confrontation. Israel has long identified Iran as its greatest threat, citing its suspect nuclear program, development of long-range missiles and hostile rhetoric.
The Lebanese Shiite militant group battled Israel to a stalemate in a month-long war in 2006 and has since gained valuable battle experience in the Syrian civil war. Over the past 13 years, Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes against suspected weapons shipments from Iran through Syria to Lebanon and has engaged in several dust ups. But its field training has been primarily aimed toward delivering a far more decisive victory in its next full-scale war with Hezbollah.
Though the military would not mention it by name, Hezbollah was clearly the central focus of the drill.
“I am very impressed by the improvement in readiness, by the fighting spirit of the soldiers and commanders, and mainly by the destructive power,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he attended part of the drill. “I say to our enemies: The military has very great destructive power. Don’t test us.”
Netanyahu, who has been a vocal critic of Iran over the years, has been uncharacteristically quiet throughout the latest escalation in the Persian Gulf.
Speaking Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was far more specific in identifying the threat.
“We caution Hezbollah not to subordinate Lebanon to Iran’s agenda, and we caution Lebanon not to be used as a launching pad for attacks against Israel,” Rivlin said. “We are not happy to go to war, but the military is fully prepared to respond to any threat and any scenario.”
The drill in northern Israel featured the country’s ever-growing arsenal of unmanned aircraft, already deployed continuously in reconnaissance missions along Israel’s borders.
Though never confirmed by Israel, the drones are also suspected of being able to carry out surgical aerial strikes that have lightened the load of Israel’s fleet of fighter jets. Able to carry out missions that would be more challenging and perilous to manned flight, the drones look to play a major role in any future war with Hezbollah, said Capt. M, the deputy commander of the Black Snake Drone Squadron, who could only be identified by his first initial according to military protocol.
“The north is a more complex fighting arena,” he said. “We are preparing for a prolonged round of fighting and the drones are an integral part of it.”
Israel’s multi-layer aerial defense systems were also being integrated into the drill, with the assumption that a war would entail massive missile fire toward all parts of the country. The Arrow rocket system is designed to intercept the longest-range missiles, including outside the atmosphere.
“Arrow was certainly developed to defend from the Iranian threat,” said Maj. Rimon Weiss, an Arrow missile commander. READ MORE
Israeli Air Force Holds Multi-Front War Simulation Drill
Israeli Air Force F-35 ADIR in Action
F-35 Adir—or “Mighty Ones”—will be the only F-35 variant to enter service heavily tailored to a foreign country’s specifications. Israel is also developing two different sets of external fuel tanks to extend the F-35’s range. The first will be non-stealthy 425-gallon underwing tanks developed by a subsidiary of Elbit—these could be dropped when approaching enemy airspace (the pylons holding the drop tanks would reportedly detach as well so as not to compromise stealth), or used for missions in which stealth isn’t necessary. Further down the line, IAI wants to co-develop with Lockheed bolt-on conformal fuel tanks which “hug” the F-35 airframe so as not to compromise stealth and aerodynamics .
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