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Israeli air force conducts first F-35 night sortie
by Ryan Maass
Jerusalem (UPI) Jan 18, 2017

Israeli air force pilots conducted their first night flight with the F-35 since receiving the new 5th-generation fighter jets.

The flight was conducted to assess the aircraft's nighttime capabilities. After the mission's completion, Israeli air force officials commended what they called a successful operation, going as far as to say there was no difference between day flight and night flight.

"Night flights are not unusual occurrences," Lt. Col. Yotam said in a press release. "The aircraft's systems allow for comfortable flight at night, that is almost identical to a day flight. Despite this, like in every mission, we operate slowly and in a supervised manner, while performing in-depth risk management."

Yotam went on to praise the F-35's Distributed Aperture System, a capability unique to the 5th-generation fighter. The system is designed to provide pilots with enhanced situational awareness by displaying a 360-degree image of the aircraft's surroundings.

The night flight was performed as part of the Israeli armed forces' integration process with the F-35, locally designated the "Adir." The country plans to reach operational capability with the jet by the end of 2017.

Israel received its first two Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Lighting II aircraft in December 2016, shortly after agreeing to purchase 17 additional units. The country intends to use the new planes to replace its aging fleet of F-15s and F-16s.

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