Israeli F-35s Down Iranian Drones Carrying Weapons to Gaza

Israeli F-35s Down Iranian Drones Carrying Weapons to Gaza

Incident marks first air to air victory for the F-35 platform


Last March, Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35I stealth jets downed two Iranian drones en route to Gaza with a shipment of handguns, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) announced on Sunday. This incident marks the first air-to-air victory for the aircraft platform in its operational history. The IAF and IDF released footage of the incident, in which Iranian Shahed series drones can be seen. While it is a bit hard to make out exactly which model they are, it looks like the one in the second shot has a propeller, suggesting to me that it is a Shahed 181. 


The IDF appears to have misidentified the drone in releases posted to Twitter. They called the UAV a “Shahed 197,” which technically doesn’t exist. I think they may have meant to say “Shahed 191,” which is a jet powered version of the Shahed 181, or they are just classifying Iranian drones on their own.


The IAF released a statement online providing more details about the incident, asserting that the weapons were meant for Hamas. The IDF told the Times of Israel that it was tracking the drones as it neared Israeli airspace and that they were intercepted by the F-35s “prior to entering Israeli airspace, in coordination with neighboring countries.” Channel 12 News, citing Israeli military officials, also suggested that a third drown was downed using electronic warfare means, but there has not been any additional information to corroborate this. It’s not really clear where the drones landed after they were engaged, but it was likely Jordan since they did not land in Israel.

This incident highlights one main thing: low cost drones vs. multi-million dollar aircraft and defense systems. The use of small unmanned aircraft have exploded over the past several years, especially in the Middle East involving Iran and its proxies. Looking at Iraq and Syria, Iranian drone platforms operated by militia groups have faced off against American air defense systems, which were not always 100% successful in countering them. For Saudi Arabia, they face constant drone attacks by Iran-backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen. This is the first time I have heard of Iran using Shahed drones to deliver weapons, because they are typically deployed as combat drones or loitering munitions. Looking at cost, the price to counter these drones is far superior to what the drones cost to build and operate. There are fuel, maintenance, weapons, and operations costs associated with countering these drones that span into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars each time. These drones cost a few thousand at most. Costs run high the more often they UAV systems operate, which is increasing year by year.


Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.
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