IAF F-35s penetrated Iranian airspace months ago - Saudi report

According to the report, the purpose of the operation - conducted with the US - was to simulate an aerial and maritime strike on Iran in the Red Sea.

 AN F-35 seen during an aerial display at an IAF pilots’ graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in the Negev. Stealth fighter aircraft of this type were involved in the downing of the Iranian UAVs.  (photo credit: AHARON KROHN/FLASH90)
AN F-35 seen during an aerial display at an IAF pilots’ graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in the Negev. Stealth fighter aircraft of this type were involved in the downing of the Iranian UAVs.
(photo credit: AHARON KROHN/FLASH90)

Israeli Air Force F-35 advanced fifth-generation fighter jets penetrated Iranian airspace multiple times over the last two months, according to the Saudi media outlet Elaph. Both Iranian and Russian radars failed to locate them, according to the report. 

According to the news site, Israel and the US have conducted large-scale exercises over the Red Sea in order to simulate an aerial and maritime strike on Iran and the seizure of Iranian vessels in the Gulf Sea. The exercises come as part of a series of drills conducted by the two countries both secretly and publicly in order to prepare for strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.

Israel has been preparing its aerial fleet - chief among them the F-35s - to be prepared in the case of a nuclear Iran, specifically upgrading the jets so that they would not require mid-air refueling.

The IAF recently integrated a new one-ton bomb into the arsenal of weapons used by the F-35s (known in the IAF as the “Adir”) that can be carried inside the plane’s internal weapons compartment without jeopardizing its stealth radar signature.

The IDF has held independent as well as joint F-35 drills with other countries over the last few months. 

 European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi wait for the start of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria June 20, 2021 (credit: REUTERS) European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi wait for the start of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria June 20, 2021 (credit: REUTERS)

The Israeli Navy has also strengthened its presence off the coast of Lebanon and in the Red Sea, according to the report.

An Arab source told Elaph that the exercises between the US and Israel show that Israel will receive support and assistance if it strikes Iranian facilities after a deal is reached with Tehran in Vienna. The source added that he does not rule out the outbreak of a conflict between Israel and Iran soon.

The Saudi news report comes on the heels of heightened tensions with Iran and the final text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal. Iran has, over the last few days, demanded that the probe opened by the International Atomic Energy Agency into its enriched uranium sites be closed.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that US President Joe Biden would not be fulfilling his commitment to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon if it joins the Iran deal as it stands.