The analysis is clear: Although it seems invulnerable, the F-35, like any war machine, faces potential threats in the air.

F-35: Lockheed Martin’s aerial prodigy

One name that resonates in military aerospace as the epitome of perfection is Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Despite being the most advanced multi-role fighter and also the most expensive ever built, it abides by the immutable rules of combat: no one is out of harm’s way.

With seven mishaps to date due to a variety of circumstances, from human error to mechanical problems, the constant reminder of the risk inherent in combat air operations flies.

The analysis is clear: Although it seems invulnerable, the F-35, like any war machine, faces potential threats in the air.

The duel: Israeli F-35 vs. S-200 missile

In 2017, Syrian airspace became the scene of a potential confrontation between an  Israeli Air Force F-35 and a  Soviet S-200 missile. The veracity of the encounter has been the subject of debate, especially considering that the S-200 is a relic of the Cold War.

Despite the reputation for invulnerability of Israeli fighters, especially the F-15 Eagle, the claim that a missile several decades ago damaged an F-35 seems questionable but not completely dismissed.

As is well known, in the complex chess of air combat, defenders only need one accurate hit to achieve their objective, regardless of the odds.

The Russian factor and the Tel Aviv message

The political context is crucial. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was in Israel during the alleged incident, and tensions between Moscow and Tel Aviv ran high.

By bombing Syria, Israel was seeking retaliation and sending a powerful message to Russia, its ally. What followed was a barrage of conflicting reports about the condition of the Israeli F-35 following the alleged encounter with the missile.

With theories ranging from a bird strike to an S-200 missile, the true circumstances of the damage to the F-35 remain an enigma.

Repairs, replacements and guesswork

While the official narrative suggests minor bird damage, some believe a missile did damage the fighter. Lockheed Martin‘s involvement in the plane’s repair further fuels these theories.

Was it a mere coincidence or a cover-up? The true extent of the damage and the cause may remain in the shadows, protected by military and corporate interests.

The cloak of mystery may never be lifted, leaving room for speculation and theories.

Pilots on machines: The incalculable value of life

Beyond costs and secrets, what prevails is the value of human life. In war, however expensive, machines can be replaced; the pilots, no.

The  Royal Air Force understood this perfectly during World War II. The planes can be rebuilt, but the pilots are irreplaceable.

At the end of the day, the integrity and safety of the pilots overcome any debate about the vulnerability or invulnerability of a machine, however advanced it may be.