It looks that the Israeli “demonstration of power” during the recent visit of the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has turned into a total failure.
On October 16, Shoigu arrived in Israel for meetings with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two sides discussed the situation in the region, including Syria, the fight against terrorism, military and technical cooperation.
On the same day, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that its warplanes targeted an anti-aircraft battery of the Syrian Air Defense Forces that had launched a missile at an Israeli aircraft flying over Lebanon.
“The army targeted the battery with four bombs and, according to the IDF, the battery was damaged to the extent that it was no longer operational. The army said that the battery targeted, was the same battery that fired at Israeli jets last March, prompting Israel to make use of its Arrow anti-missile system for the first time,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on the issue.
The Syrian military confirmed the Israeli strikes and said that they caused “material damage.”
According to the Syrian Defense Ministry statement, Israeli warplanes violated Syria’s airspace on the border with Lebanon in Baalbek area. The incident took place at 8:51 am local time.
Could the Israeli Air Force be trying to intentionally provoke a reaction from the Syrian military in order to justify the strike on the Syrian air defense battery?
Some pro-Israeli experts and media activists immediately linked the incident with the visit of the Russian defense minister to Tel Aviv saying that it was a nice demonstration of power to the Russian-Iranian-Syrian alliance.
However, something went wrong.
According to the available information, the Syrian Defense Forces used a Soviet S-200 missile against the Israeli warplane. This Soviet-made missile is the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft system operated by the Syrian military. However, it’s old-fashioned in terms of the modern warfare.
Despite this, the Syrian Defense Ministry said in its statement that the air-defense forces “directly hit one of the jets, forcing [Israeli aircraft] to retreat.” This statement contradicts the Israeli claim that “no hit” was confirmed.
Few hours after the missile incident with Syria, the Israeli media reported that the Israeli Air Force’s F-35 stealth multirole fighter went unserviceable as a result of an alleged collision with a bird during a training flight.
The incident allegedly took place “two weeks ago” but was publicly reported only on October 16. Israeli sources were not able to show a photo of the F-35 warplane after the “bird collision”.
Furthermore, it is not clear if the F-35 can become operational again because its stealth coating was damaged. Thus, according to the Israeli version, the warplane went out of service after collision with a bird, despite the fact that the F-35 earlier passed the bird strike certification with great results.
The F-35 is the world’s most expensive warplane. The price of developing the F-35 is now about $406.5 billion. Israel pays about $100 million for each plane.
The question remains, what really damaged the F-35?