On April 26, a stealthy F-35 fighter jet of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) was hit by a bird while taking part in an Independence Day fly-by.
In a statement, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that the F-35 suffered a “minor hit” from the bird, stressing that the fighter jet, which costs over $80 millions, did not make an emergency landing and the pilot was not injured.
More than 100 aircraft were taking part in a series of fly-bys to commemorate Israel’s 75th Independence Day. Several jets from foreign air forces also participated in the fly-bys.
The bird strike was not the only incident reported during the fly-bys. Earlier, an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter landed in open ground near the settlement of Ga’ash in central Israel. The IDF said that the helicopter landed due to a technical fault, adding that there were no injuries in the incident.
The IAF operates 36 F-35 fighter jets, all of which are modified with Israeli-made systems. Israel is set to receive 39 additional F-35i fighter jets in the upcoming few years.
Israel declared the F-35i operationally capable in 2017. In the same year, the IAF said that one of the stealthy fighter jets was damaged as a result of a bird strike while conducting a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon. However, it was later reported that the F-35 was hit by a missile launched from a Syrian S-200 long-range air defense system.
In 2021, IAF F-35 fighter jets shot down two Iranian drones, carrying weapons to the Gaza Strip. This was the first operational shoot down and interception carried out by the F-35.
Despite many doubts about the capabilities of the F-35, Israel will likely order more of the stealth fighter jets from the United States in the near future to replace its aging fleet of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.
Source: South Front