The Israel military announced on October 11 that it had halted all F-35I flights following the crash of a U.S. F-35 in South Carolina last month. The move followed similar steps by the Pentagon.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) revealed in an official statement that the F-35B crash was caused by a technical malfunction in the engine’s fuel pipe. According to the statement, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the IAF, decided to take additional precautions and conduct tests on all F-35I aircraft, despite the accident having occurred in a model not used by Israel.
“The testing will take several days and once completed the planes will return to full operations … In the meanwhile, if the F-35I are required for operational action, the F-35I aircraft are ready and prepared,” the IAF said in its statement.
Last May, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said that the IAF used its version of the F-35 in operational missions, striking at least two unspecified targets in the region. The Israeli announcement marked the first time the F-35 had been used in an actual combat situation.
Capabilities of the Israeli F-35Is gained additional media attention when Syria received S-300 long-range air defense systems from Russia. Some Israeli top officials even said that the IAF will began using the stealth multirole fighters to attack targets inside Syria.
However, now it appears that the IAF will have to wait additional time before its F-35Is will be able to challenge the increased Syrian air defense capabilities.