Nevatim air base in southern Israel will host a special ceremony this week, in which the Israeli Air Force’s second squadron of F-35 stealth fighters will be officially inaugurated. The new squadron will have the number 116, and be nicknamed “The Southern Lions.” It will join Squadron 140, which is nicknamed “The Golden Eagle”.
The ceremony will be attended by senior and junior members of the IAF, including IAF commander Major General Amikam Norkin. Israel’s contract with Lockheed-Martin, the F-35’s manufacturer, is for a total number of 50 F-35 planes, with about six to be delivered every year until 2024.
In December 2019 Lockheed-Martin Vice President, General Gary North, visited Israel. Gen. North stated during his visit that Israel is leaning toward a decision to establish a third F-35 squadron in the future. The first two F-35 aircraft in Squadron 116 arrived Israel in November 2019, at the Nevatim base. The price of each plane purchased in the future is set to be discounted, to $77.9 million.
In 2019, F-35s first participated in the intertanional air drill known as “Blue Flag”. Some of the F-35 aircraft even simulated enemy forces, in order to allow other planes and pilots access to certain scenatios used for advanced training.