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Israeli F-35Is Providing Close Air Support To Troops In Gaza With 2,000-lb Bombs

File photo of an Israeli F-35I with four GBU-31s in the foreground (IAF)

The Adirs are usually flying with GBU-31 JDAM bombs and are also employing them at danger close ranges during CAS scenarios.

New details are emerging regarding the use of the Israeli F-35I Adir 5th gen fighters during the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip, exactly one month after the initial attack of Hamas in the kibbutzs on the Israeli side of the border. The info comes after the Israeli Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi visited the Israeli Air Force’s F-35I fleet at Nevatim Air Base.

The General provided some updates on the operations in the Gaza strip, saying that the IDF is hitting Hamas’ commanders and infrastructure in Gaza very hard, but they are also ready for other areas should the need arise, mentioning that the F-35Is “know how to reach anywhere in the Middle East.” A further expansion of the conflict in the Middle East is currently one of the most worrying aspects for the international community.

In addition to that, Lt. Gen. Halevi mentioned the use of the Adir to provide Close Air Support to troops in Gaza about 200 m away from the target, well inside the danger close radius of 600 m, with 2,000 lb GBU-31 JDAM bombs. This kind of missions are usually performed with smaller weapons, however it seems that the Israeli Air Force is making heavy use of the 2,000 lb JDAM, with few exceptions such as the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs.

“We never did anything like this. With very heavy munitions, a very good connection between what the [ground] force needs and what the plane knows to give,” said the General. “This connection of air and land together, we always knew it was strong, we see now that it is much stronger than we knew”.

In the photos of the visit to the air base, one of the F-35Is can also be clearly seen with a GBU-31 mounted externally under the wing, so it is possible that the F-35s are now flying strike missions with four bombs like the F-16s. However, the F-15Is are flying with an even heavier loads, as some photos show them armed with up to seven GBU-31s.

Meanwhile, there are also reports of Israeli jets flying over Beirut, according to Lebanon’s official news agency. Israel and Hezbollah exchanged cross-border fire today, with 20 rockets fired towards northern Israel which prompted the activation of the Iron Dome system and counter-battery artillery fire.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

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