Aired on Hadashot television news Wednesday night, the picture was apparently leaked to the network
Aired on Hadashot television news Wednesday night, the picture was apparently leaked to the network.
The photograph, shot from a second aircraft, shows the F-35 flying past the Lebanese coast in broad daylight. Beirut and its Rafic Hariri International Airport are both clearly visible in the image. However it was not clear when exactly the picture was captured.
The picture was reportedly shown by IAF chief Amikam Norkin on Tuesday at a conference for visiting commanders and deputy commanders of over 20 foreign air forces, as he revealed that Israel had used the American-made F-35 in at least two attack missions, making it the first country in the world to use the aircraft operationally.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) denied providing Hadashot news with the image and said it had not meant for the photograph to be shown outside the conference.
Over 100 people attended Norkin’s speech. A photograph from the event, which was distributed by the IDF, appeared to show some audience members holding cellphones. At least two military photographers were also at the event.
As previously reported, on May 22, 2018 Norkin told at the International Air Force Commander Conference that “The ‘Adir’ (F-35I) aircraft are already operational and flying combat missions. In fact, we have performed the first operational F-35 strike in the world. We attacked twice in the Middle East using the F-35 (and) we are the first in the world to do so. The Israeli Air Force is a pioneer and a world leader in operating air power.” He did not specify the targets.
“Israel launched world’s first air strike using F-35 stealth fighters,” IAF chief said.
“You know that we just won the Eurovision with the song ‘Toy.’ Well, the F-35 is not a toy,” he said.
Israel’s claim to have used the F-35I in an operational strike even before the Americans may be designed as a further show of military strength, since it is believed that elite Iranian forces are trying to entrench themselves in Syria to threaten Israel.
Israel said its recent air strikes inside Syria targeted Iranian military infrastructure, in response to rocket fire aimed at Israeli military positions in the occupied Golan Heights.
“Over the past weeks, we understood that Iran was transporting long-range missiles and rockets to Syria, among which are ‘Uragan’ missile launchers which we attacked, just north of Damascus,” Maj. Gen. Norkin added. “The Iranians fired 32 rockets towards Israel. We intercepted four of them, while the rest fell outside of Israel’s territory. Afterward, we attacked dozens of Iranian targets in Syria. Sadly, the Syrian air defense systems fired over 100 SAM (Surface-to-air missiles) at our aircraft using SA-5, SA-17, and SA-22 missile batteries. In response, we destroyed their SAM batteries. A short time later, we destroyed a 20-meter deep Hamas tunnel.”
Iran has hundreds of personnel in Syria, who it says serve as military advisers to the Syrian army. It has also sent thousands of volunteer fighters in support of the Syrian government.
Photo credit: screenshot
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com