An Israeli Air Force F-35 stealth jet revealed itself on international civil aircraft tracking radars while flying over the Shimon Peres Nuclear Research Center in the Negev, Ynet reported Monday evening.
According to the source, the aircraft revealed itself at an altitude of 31,000 feet over the nuclear facility when the pilot turned on a non-encrypted transponder, making Israel's newest fighter jet visible in civil flight radars.
Military aircraft use "Squawk" codes to communicate information when conducting military operations, with the three main codes being 7500, meaning hijacking; 7600 meaning transmission error; and 7700, meaning emergency. The exposed aircraft reportedly transmitted code Squawk 7600, meaning transmission error.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit commented on the incident, saying that "during a routine training flight in a training area in the South, a malfunction was discovered in the aircraft's transponder.
"In order to communicate with the other aircraft that participating in the training, the pilot activated the aircraft's detection system so that the other aircraft would be able to recognize it without communicating with the pilot," the unit said.
The IDF added that "the tracking system is operated at the discretion of the pilot and the incident was not an exceptional event."
According to Ynet, a similar incident took place in 2018, when an IAF jet exposed itself on civil radars flying over Israel's coastline toward Syria. It was believed at the time that the exposure was intentional and was meant to send a message to Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The IAF conducted a military exercise this week in the Ramon International Airport in the Timna Valley in Israel's southern Arava Desert, during which an IAF F-15I fighter jet landed in the airport and parked by four Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 airlifters.
According to the IDF, "the exercise was planned ahead of time as part of the 2020 military exercise program, which was meant to preserve the alertness of the force and its efficiency."