on Mar. 7, 2022, The Israeli Air Force release a declassified video that shows that last year its F-35I Adir 5th gen aircraft became the first F-35s to shoot down an airborne target.
This first air-to-air engagement happened on Mar. 15, 2021, with the F-35s intercepting two Iranian UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), that were headed for the Israeli airspace, even before they crossed the border.
This is the first time that F-35s operated by any nation have been confirmed as having destroyed airborne threats.
“The IDF activity was carried out far from the border and did not threaten civilians or facilities”, said a spokesman.
“UAV interceptions were carried out in the area’s skies in coordination with neighboring countries, thus preventing intrusion into Israel.
The UAVs were monitoring the control and detection systems throughout their flight.
The two drones were detected in advance, prompting the scramble of F-35Is, belonging to the 140th “Golden Eagle” Squadron and 116th “Lions of the South” Squadron, from Nevatim Airbase.
One drone, which was reported flying towards Israel from the South, was detected at around 1:44 a.m. and was shot down at 2:19 a.m. The second one, which was flying towards Israel from the East, was detected at 1:46 a.m. and shot down at 2:16 a.m. The IDF said it is not known where the two drones were launched from, but they “were detected and tracked throughout their flight by ground control units.”
” Both drones were destroyed by using unspecified missiles: the Israeli F-35I Adir is only known to operate the infra-red guided AIM-9X air-to-air missile and the radar guided AIM-120 AMRAAM.
It is probable that radar-guided missiles were used in the intercept of the Iranian drones.
The two UAVs were identified by the military as Shahed 197 drones which were ferrying weapons to the Gaza Strip. Indeed, one photo showed drone wreckage with several pistols amongst the debris: the drones were actually carrying small arms likely for use by militant insurgents.