The kill, scored against a missile likely launched from Yemen, is the first interception of this kind by the 5th gen fighter.
The Israeli Air Force disclosed today that one of its F-35I Adir fighters recently shot down a cruise missile which was about to enter Israeli airspace from the southwest. The cruise missile, possibly launched from Yemen, was detected and tracked by the air defense as F-35Is were scrambled to intercept it, scoring the first cruise missile kill by the 5th generation fighter.
בימים האחרונים זוהה על ידי מערכות הבקרה והגילוי של חיל-האוויר, טיל שיוט, ששוגר מדרום מזרח אל עבר המרחב האווירי של מדינת ישראל. המערכות עקבו אחרי מסלולו של טיל השיוט והזניקו מטוסי קרב ממערך ה״אדיר״, אשר יירטו אותו בהצלחה. pic.twitter.com/6fP6TnlpTm
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) November 2, 2023
The IAF did not release other details, however in a post on X (formerly Twitter) released a video recorded either by the helmet mounted display or the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS). The video shows a jet powered (note the white hot area in the video where the engine would be) cruise missile with short wings, similar to ones used by the Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.
The F-35 launched a missile at the drone, which burst in flames, but it is not possible to discern if the Adir employed an AIM-9X Sidewinder or an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. Both missiles have already been used against similar small targets such as UAVs, so they are both a viable option. Also, last year the F-35I scored the first air-to-air kill shooting down a drone with one of these missiles.
In the past the United States tested the F-35 in scenarios simulating anti-ballistic missile and anti-cruise missile defense, often in conjunction with THAAD and Patriot batteries and Navy ships equipped with the AEGIS system. This, however, is the first live interception reported of a cruise missile by the F-35.