Israel announced that it used its new F-35 stealth fighters for the first time last night in Syria in response to a rocket attack earlier in the day.

According to the IDF, “more than 100 ground to air missiles” were fired at the F-35s with zero hits:

Maj. Gen Norkin added, “The F-35 squadron has become an operational squadron. We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East”:

This is a big test for the aircraft as even the United States has yet to use the jets in a combat situation:

Not much is known yet about the missions flown by the Israeli F-35s, however. From The Aviationist:

What kind of missions? Hard to say. We can’t but speculate here but unless there was some really critical target to hit in a heavily defended airspace, the F-35s might have been initially involved as part of larger “packages” that included other special mission aircraft and EW (Electronic Warfare) support where the Adir jets would also (or mostly) exploit their ELINT abilities to detect, geolocate and classify enemy‘s systems. In fact, along with its Low Observability feature, the F-35 provides the decision makers high-end electronic intelligence gathering sensors combined with advanced sensor fusion capabilities to create a single integrated picture of the battlefield: in other words, not only can the F-35 conduct an air strike delivering bombs but it can also direct air strikes of other aircraft using standoff weapons. The F-35s are known to be able to carry out a dual role: “combat battlefield coordinators,” collecting, managing and distributing intelligence data while also acting as “kinetic attack platforms,” able to drop their ordnance on the targets and pass targeting data to older 4th Gen. aircraft via Link-16, if needed. More or less the same task considered for the USMC F-35B that have flown this kind of missions in exercises against high-end threats in 2016.

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