Last year the the Israeli Air Force (IAF) intercepted two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) sent from Iran using F-35I Adir jets. The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed the action by published a video of the drones being shot down by F-35s on Monday, March 7, nearly a year after the incident. The footage documents what has been described as the F-35’s first aerial kill.
“In March 2021, IAF F-35I “Adir” fighter jets successfully intercepted two Iranian UAVs launched at Israeli territory, thus performing the world’s first operational UAV response by the F-35,” the IAF said in a statement on the issue. While the Air Force reported that two Iranian Shahed-type UAVs were transporting weaponry to the Hamas terrorist group in the Judea and Samaria regions of the Gaza Strip before being shot down prior to actually entering Israeli airspace, they did not specify where exactly the UAVs were launched from.
Following the publishing of the footage, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz remarked on Twitter that Iran’s aggression – whether it comes from Iranian soil or through Iran’s proxies – is a threat to global peace and regional stability. According to Gantz, “the IDF and Israeli defense establishment will continue to act decisively in the face of Iranian aggression and terrorism. We will thwart any attempted attack and charge a painful price from Iran.”
In recent years Iran has expanded its use of drones to deliver munitions to terrorist groups it supports in the Middle East for use in attacks. Iran actively employs the Ababil 2, Yasir, and Saegheh (Shahed 171-191) UAVs to provide weapons to Iranian-backed Houthi forces against Saudi Arabia, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas forces in the fight against Israel.
In recent years, Israel has also devised Drone Dome, a system developed by Rafael within the framework of the Iron Dome air defense system, for the monitoring and capture of small UAVs as a precaution, believing that these Iranian small UAVs have become a security threat that needs to be addressed.