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After Conducting ‘Stealth Recce’, Israel Warns Iran About Range of F-35 Fighters

Last year, IAF F-35 “Adir” planes penetrated Iran’s airspace, circled high above some of the major cities and photographed Iran’s air defense system, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper.

Kuwaiti newspaper article seems more of a propaganda piece: Pakistani defense expert

DESPARDES (Updated) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally viewed a squadron of US-built F-35 fighter jets Tuesday, and warned Iran the state-of-the-art aircraft can fly anywhere in the Middle East.

Netanyahu made the remarks during a visit to Nevatim Airbase near Be’er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel and amid reports that these stealth fighters had made a rendezvous deep inside Iranian airspace in March 2018.

“Iran has recently threatened to destroy Israel, and it should remember that these planes can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran as well as Syria,” Netanyahu said in a YouTube video clip filmed at the base, with an F-35 in the background.

According to an investigative report, the Iranian Air Force Chief has reportedly been fired by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after he kept secret that Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35 stealth fighters had conducted a recce by violating Iran’s airspace. The report was published by Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida on Saturday.

The newspaper revealed that “IAF F-35 “Adir” planes penetrated Iran’s airspace, circled high above Tehran, Karajrak, Isfahan, Shiraz and Bandar Abbas – and photographed Iran’s air defense system.”

The power of stealth reportedly demonstrated, Israel now considers the Lockheed Martin F-35 as a “game-changer”.

But a senior Pakistani defense expert on condition of anonymity questioned the veracity of the report. “The distance between Israel and the places mentioned in above report cannot be flown by F 35 on its internal fuel unless it is refueled mid air, which definitely compromises its stealth. Such mission may be possible without any armament and by putting extra fuel in internal weapons bays, but then this configuration is operationally useless. If the aim is to fly over Iran for surveillance then Israel has much better means ( UAVs)”, the expert said. “The newspaper article seems more of a propaganda piece.”

The US ally in the region has long said that every option is on the table in ensuring that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, and has backed pledges to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria by carrying out air strikes there.

Its three-times elected prime minister appeared to respond to a comment last week from Iranian parliamentarian Mojtaba Zolnour that any attack against Tehran would impact Israel as well.

“If the U.S. attack us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan,” Zolnour said.

Iran said earlier this year it successfully fired a cruise missile with a range of more than 800 miles, and said it can reach Israel.

Zolnour made the comment as Iran announced it had amassed more enriched uranium than allowed under the 2015 7-nation agreement and said it had refined uranium to a higher purity. It was Iran’s first departure from the deal since the Trump administration took the U.S. out of the deal last year and imposed zero-tolerance economic sanctions against Iran.

European powers have called for an urgent meeting of the parties to the agreement to discuss Tehran’s compliance.

Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and Iran are the remaining parties to the deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) – which was abandoned by the United States last year.

Tehran says its steps are permitted under the deal as a response to U.S. non-compliance. It has said it could take new steps in 60 days, including restarting dismantled centrifuges and purifying uranium to a sharply higher threshold.