Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets infiltrated Iranian airspace numerous times in recent months, but Iran never noticed, according to a report by the Saudi Arabian Elaph newspaper on Tuesday.
An unnamed source told Elaph that the Israeli F-35s flew over Iranian airspace more than once in the past two months, without being detected by either Iranian or Russian radar systems. The alleged Israeli infiltration of Iranian airspace was part of Israel’s massive “Chariots of Fire” aerial combat drills, in which Israeli forces rehearsed strikes on Iran.
The Israeli news media had reported on the “Chariots of Fire” drills, but the new allegations reported by Elaph suggest those Iran strike rehearsal drills were closer to the real deal than previously known.
Iranian radar operators likely aren’t able to detect or discern when stealth aircraft are in their airspace.
As reported by SandBoxx, stealth aircraft aren’t completely invisible to even dated low-frequency radar systems. Though stealth technology makes it difficult for radars to obtain the “weapons-grade lock” needed to guide a missile to hit that stealth aircraft, radars can still see those aircraft to a degree. If the claims raised by Elaph are accurate, it would suggest the radars Iran is using are either incapable of stealth detection, or their operators failed to recognize or report when their systems detected the Israeli stealth fighters.
Elaph also reported that U.S. forces participated in the Israeli “Chariots of Fire” drills and carried out “a secret maneuver” in the Red Sea simulating a strike on Iran from the sea and the air, and seizing Iranian warships.
The apparent Israeli preparations to strike Iran come as President Joe Biden’s administration has been in talks with the Iranian government about a return to compliance with a 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and Iran has stockpiled and enriched uranium beyond the limits laid out in the deal.
The alleged Israeli infiltration of Iranian airspace is the latest indication that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli Air Force are seriously preparing to strike Iran.
Israeli leaders have warned against a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
In January of last year, a member of then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet threatened that Israel would take military action to prevent Iran from advancing its nuclear program. This July, current Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called on Biden to be ready to use military force to back up his vows to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
The alleged U.S. participation in the Israeli aerial combat drills would indicate some willingness by the Biden administration to support an Israeli strike if negotiations to restart the JCPOA fall through.
On Aug. 19, CNN reported Iran had dropped a demand that the U.S. take Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) as part of the JCPOA negotiations.
U.S. forces have conducted multiple strikes on alleged Iran-backed militia groups in Syria in recent days, after those militia groups launched a series of rocket attacks on U.S. outposts in the country. It remains to be seen if the recent hostilities between U.S. forces and these militias will hinder Iran deal negotiations.