Israeli F-35s in first combat mission
May 31, 2018 - Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir fighters carried out their first airstrikes against enemy targets in April. The stealth warplanes flew within the range of Russian S-400 air defence radars located at Hmeimim Air Base.
Israel’s air force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Nurkin reported on May 22 that the F-35I Adir warplanes had been used for the first time in the Middle East and “attacked twice on different fronts” in their first combat operations anywhere in the world.
The IAF declared the 140 “Golden Eagle” Squadron with nine F-35I Joint Strike Fighters at Nevatim Air Base initially ready for combat operations in December 2017.
The F-35Is are believed to have flown on April 29 from Nevatim, over Jordan and Iraq, before penetrating Syrian airspace -- all the while within range of Russian S-400 air defence systems based at Hmeimim Air Base on Syria's western coast.
The target tracking radar of the S-400 is the 92N6E (NATO Codename: Gravestone) which can detect and track aircraft, cruise missiles, ballistic rockets and drones within a distance of 600km.
The aircraft attacked military sites in Hama and Aleppo provinces with GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs) -- an unpowered glide bomb credited with a standoff range of 110km.
The Hama attack against the home base of Syria’s 47th Brigade destroyed significant arms caches, including Iranian-supplied surface-to-surface missiles. Blasts reported at 22:40 local time registered as a 2.6-magnitude earthquake, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
This means the F-35Is attacked some 350km from Israeli territory, making it the deepest Israeli strike within Syria since the IAF destruction of the Al-Kubar nuclear reactor near Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria in September 2007.