NEWS

Israel's F-35 could soon see combat in Syria

Israel shot down an Iranian drone with an Apache helicopter and had one of its own F-16s downed by Syrian air defenses in an intense air battle that played out over the weekend of Feb. 10, 2018. Experts say its a matter of time until the F-35 steps in for its first taste of combat.


After the loss of the F-16, Israeli jets scrambled within hours and took out half of Syria's air defense network, according to their own assessment.

But the image of the destroyed Israeli plane will leave a lasting black eye for the Jewish state, and Syria's assistant foreign minister promised Israel's air force "will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria."

Despite the downed F-16 and Syria's threats, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue to wield his air force against Iranian-backed targets in Syria when he feels they get too close to his borders.

"We made unequivocally clear to everyone that our modus operandi has not changed one bit," he said.

Also read: Why the F-16 will be around long after it 'retires'

So, why didn't Israel send F-35 stealth jets? Isreal has spent hundreds of millions on acquiring and supporting the weapons system purpose-built to fight in contested air spaces undetected. Israel declared its F-35s operational in December 2017.

Looks like a job for the F-35?

F-35 Lightning II. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Justin Bronk, a combat aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider that the F-35 today has a "very immature software set," and that it "doesn't make a huge amount of sense to use them and risk them over enemy airspace" when it can afford so few of them.

But retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, a former F-35 squadron commander, thought differently.

"I'd be very comfortable flying the currently fielded software in combat," Berke, who trained with Israeli pilots at the U.S. Navy's Top Gun school, told Business Insider.

Berke said the F-35 was "ideal" for the heavily defended airspace over Syria, and also ideally suited for Israel's air force, which he described as finding "innovative, creative, and aggressive ways to maximize the capability of every weapons system they've ever used."

Related: The F-35 can make China's carrier killer missiles 'irrelevant'

"The F-35 will see combat for Israel and it's just a matter of time," Berke said. Bronk and other experts contacted by Business Insider agreed that the F-35's first combat will likely take place in Israeli service, as they lash out against mounting Iranian power in the region.

Presently, it's not clear that Israel didn't use the F-35. Israel has a long history of pioneering weapons systems and hitting the ground running with new ones. Israel has conducted its air war in Syria very quietly, only publicly acknowledging strikes after its F-16 went down. In March 2017, a French journalist cited French intel reports allegedly saying the F-35 may have already been put to work in Israeli service.

When the F-35 starts fighting, you'll know

F-35 Lightning II in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sean Sweeney)

But, with or without the F-35, Israel seemed satisfied with its counterattack on Syrian defenses. Bronk cautioned that Israel's claim to have taken out half of the defenses probably only refers to half of the defenses in immediate proximity to its borders, but said they have "many, many tricks developed over decades" for the suppression of enemy air defenses.

More: The Marines' F-35 will get its first taste of combat in 2018

The surface-to-air missiles in Syria's hands "certainly cannot be ignored or taken too lightly," according to Berke, and pose a "legitimate threat" to legacy aircraft like Israel's F-16.

A source working on stealth aircraft for the U.S. military who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the work would only hint to Business Insider that the F-35 may be gearing up for a fight in Syria, saying "if things unexplained start happening, there's a good explanation."

Tim Malloy

Great pilot jobs: one more reason the Air Force has a pilot shortage

Becoming a commercial or airline pilot is a natural transition for any veteran who had experience flying aircraft during their time in service. Pilot jobs pay very well, and while technology is making aircraft more autonomous, the need for pilots is still going to continue to rise in the future.

Here's what you need to know about becoming a pilot.

What commercial and airline pilots do

Put simply, pilots are the men and women who fly aircraft and navigate the air space. But there are also other duties some pilots must perform. These might include:

  • Checking the condition of an aircraft before and after flights
  • Ensuring that the aircraft is within weight limits
  • Ensuring that the aircraft is properly fueled based on flight length and weight
  • Preparing flight plans
  • Communications with air traffic control
  • Monitoring engines, fuel consumption, and other aircraft systems during flight
  • Respond to changing conditions, such as weather events and emergencies (for example, a mechanical malfunction)

Pilots must be able to effectively communicate with their co-pilot and flight engineer, especially during takeoff and landing of the aircraft. Depending on what kind of pilot you become you may be responsible for any of the above duties. There are several different kinds of civilian pilots.

(Photo by Kristopher Allison)

Airline pilots

Airline pilots work for airlines that transport both passengers and goods on fixed schedules. The pilot in command is typically the most experienced pilot working on the flight crew. They are responsible for the activities of the crew. The second pilot in command, or the co-pilot, will share in the in-flight duties with the captain. Some older aircraft require a flight engineer, who monitors equipment and flight instruments. Technology has reduced the need for flight engineers.

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If Jurassic Park III set the stage for the raptor redemption, the Jurassic World films are where they completed their transformation from villain to hero. And that transformation was mostly… fine. In the first Jurassic World, Owen Grady had been able to develop a rapport with a pack of raptors, to the point where they are able to follow his orders.

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The P-51 Mustang, for instance, was in front-line service with the Dominican Republic almost four decades after it took control of the skies from Nazi Germany and Japan. The North American F-86F Saber was defending the skies over Bolivia until 1993 – 40 years after the end of the Korean War where it made a name for itself. The F-5A that first flew in 1959 stayed in service with Venezuela well after 2000.

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"During wartime, the force likely has the capability to conduct a limited, short-term strategic and tactical bombing offensive and to launch a surprise attack," IISS assesses.

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