Did Russian Missiles ‘Hit’ F-35 ‘Stealth’ Fighter Jet Operated By The Israeli Air Force Over Syria?

The world has its eyes on the new American F-35 jet that has already cemented its place in the elite club of fighter jets because of its state-of-the-art features and powerful stealth capabilities. While the F-35 has earned immense praise, its critics have cited reports of a chink in its armor.

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In 2017, several media outlets published reports saying one of the Israeli Air Force’s F-35s was hit by the Soviet-made S-200 missile in Syria.

“According to the available information, the Syrian Defense Forces used an S-200 missile against the Israeli warplane,” SouthFront reported. It added that the S-200, designed in the 1960s by the erstwhile Soviet Union, was the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft system operated by the Syrian military. 

On the contrary, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that an anti-aircraft missile was launched from Syria towards its aircraft but no hit was confirmed. It didn’t mention which aircraft was used for “routine flight” in Lebanon.

“The army targeted the battery with four bombs and, according to the IDF, the battery was damaged to the extent it was no longer operational,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

“The army said the battery targeted was the same that was fired at Israeli jets last March, prompting Israel to make use of its Arrow anti-missile system for the first time.”

The Syrian military confirmed the Israeli strikes and said in a statement that “a number of missiles (were fired) from inside the occupied territories that hit a Syrian army position in the countryside of Damascus,” and caused “material damage.”


The Syrian military statement also said that Israeli warplanes violated Syria’s airspace on the border with Lebanon in Baalbek area, to which their “air defenses responded and directly hit one of the jets, forcing [the enemy] to retreat,” contradicting Israeli claim that no warplane was hit.

The Syrian military also warned of “dangerous repercussions” of Israel’s aggression saying that it will continue to wage war on Israeli groups. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “unacceptable” and added that “if anyone attempts to harm us, we will harm them back.”

Incidentally, the event occurred on the same day when Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu was visiting Tel Aviv raising speculation that the strike was a show of strength of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian alliance.

Here’s What’s Interesting

After a few hours of the incident, the Israeli media reported that its F-35 warplane was hit by a bird. The reports said that the accident occurred two weeks before it was reported with no casualties. Israel had received the delivery of seven F-35 aircraft out of the order placed for 50.

The damage to the aircraft was reported to the maker, Lockheed Martin, to ascertain whether it could be used again or not.

“Prior to a routine landing of the F-35 aircraft, two injuries to the fuselage were discovered following a collision with birds,” the IDF spokesperson had said. “The aircraft made a normal landing at the base and was sent for maintenance treatment as is customary following this type of injury. The plane will be used and will return to flight in the coming days.”

SouthFront noted that the Israeli sources were not able to show a photo of the F-35 warplane after the purported ‘bird collision.’

The Drive noted that it is unlikely that the IDF would use its F-35 on an operational sortie. It added that even though the Israelis have rushed fighters into service in the past for unique operational needs, the F-35 is an especially delicate procurement topic for the Israeli government. “So risking the new jets before they are actually operational on a seemingly standard mission would be an odd if not reckless move” by Israel.