Game Changer

This is interesting as we learned today that Israel carried out a ‘large-scale attack’ in Syria after an Israeli jet crashes under antiaircraft fire and that an Iranian drone was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter. The shot down Israeli aircraft was a F16.

Why Israel's New F-35 Stealth Fighters Are a Game-Changer (National Interest)

Something changed in the region last December, when Israel declared its first squadron of F-35s operational. Numerically, the change seemed minor. The Israeli Air Force's (IAF) 140 ("Golden Eagle") Squadron has just nine F-35I Adir aircraft, scheduled to grow to fifty over the next three years. That's a small number compared to the roughly 300 F-15s, F-15Es and F-16s currently operated by the IAF.

But the significance of Israel's F-35s is more than numbers. First, there is the simple qualitative advantage. Nationalists and propagandists can argue the merits of the F-35 versus the latest Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighters. What matters here is that neither Iran nor Syria are likely to get the most advanced Russian fighters or antiaircraft missiles (it took Iran ten years before it received Russian S-300 long-range anti-aircraft missiles in 2017). The F-35 is superior to Iran's collection of F-14, MiG-29s, and F-4 Phantoms, Syria's MiG-29s and Egypt's F-16s. There is a remote possibility that Israeli F-35s could confront Russian Su-35s (which Russia claims scared off U.S. F-22s) over Syria. But otherwise, Israel has and will continue to have the most advanced combat aircraft in the region.