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Israeli F-35 shoots down Houthi cruise missile

Footage released on 2 November by the Israeli Air Force showing the moments before an F-35I shoots down a Houthi cruise missile. (Israeli Air Force)

An Israeli Air Force (IAF) Lockheed Martin F-35I Adir combat aircraft shot down a cruise missile fired from Yemen by the Iranian-backed Ansar Allah group, known as Houthis.

The IAF announced the event on 2 November, releasing F-35I electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) footage of the engagement.

“In recent days, the IAF's control and detection systems identified a cruise missile launched from the southeast towards Israeli airspace. The systems tracked the trajectory of the cruise missile and launched fighter planes of the ‘Adir' type, which successfully intercepted it,” the IAF said on its official X (formerly Twitter) site.

The footage showed what seemed to be a turbojet-powered cruise missile flying at high speed and low level before being struck by a missile and destroyed. Footage and information previously released by the Houthis refer to a type of cruise missile known as the Quds series.

While the IAF provided no further details, the F-35I carries the infrared-guided Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile and the radar-guided AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Israel is working to integrate its indigenous missiles, such as the Python 5 air-to-air missile, but this work is not understood to have yet been completed.

Although a first for the F-35I in this latest conflict, the downing of the Houthi cruise missile is not the first aerial kill for this type. In March 2022 the IAF said F-35Is scored the type's first air-to-air victory (not just in Israeli service but across the wider international programme) with the downing of two Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were approaching national airspace.

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