F-35s can enter Iran undetected by Russian or Iranian radars

Undoubtedly, Iran’s acquisition of the Su-35 is not good news for regional adversary Israel. We have analyzed how the Iranian Flankers can defeat the Israeli F-16s. At the very least, the fact that a possible aerial duel would result in the loss of an expensive air platform is a deterrent or at least a reduction and refinement of Israeli raids around and into Iran.

New version of the 5th-generation F-35 stealth fighter arrives in Israel for testing
Photo credit: The Drive

The situation is similar if the Su-35 meets the F-35 Adir. But the key word in this particular case is “if”. Because Iran, despite nationalistic statements, allows the F-35 into its airspace without intercepting it.

The Su-35 should receive a signal about the presence of the F-35 Adir in Iranian airspace. To date, Iran has not been able to intercept an Israeli F-35. Proof of this is the “secret visit” last year of the Israeli F-35 Adir in Iranian airspace.

Then the jets entered Iran during the Chariots of Fire exercise. Neither Russian [Soviet] nor Iranian radars were able to “sense anything”. As the F-35s came in, they went out, then headed to the Mediterranean for mock strikes on Iranian targets.

The entry of an Israeli F-35 into Iran’s airspace shows just how technologically backward the Islamic Republic’s radars are. For Iran, this is a worrying fact, especially given the reports from Saudi Arabia that not once, but at least several times, Israeli F-35s entered Iranian airspace in June, July, and August 2022.

Egyptian Su-35 Flanker-E fighters are going to Iran in March
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Even more troubling is the fact that Israel has used drones and tankers to refuel its F-35 fighter jets in the air, again without being picked up by Iranian radars. For the Russians, in this specific case, this is most likely not the case, since flying over Syria or over Lebanon, the range of the S-300 and S-400 would “mark” them. Let’s also not forget that Russia has a tacit agreement with Israel not to interfere with the Jews when they carry out anti-Iranian missions, especially on the territory of Syria.

If Iran has failed to “radar tag” the drones and tankers refueling the warplanes, then how exactly will it use its Su-35s? Yes, because experts have long analyzed the fact that Iran can use its Su-35s when Israeli fighter jets return from a mission and refuel in the air. But how do you know when an F-35 is returning from a mission when you didn’t notice it was on a mission “to your home”?

In fact, ‘the first time in battle’ of the F-35 was carried out precisely by Israel. Last year in March, Tel Aviv declassified video footage of the use of the F-35 Adir against two Iranian drones. Actually, there were three of them, but the third one was shot down by the Iron Beam laser defense system that Israel developed. The other two were successfully intercepted and shot down by Israeli F-35s.

In late 2022, according to Russian sources, Israel again used its F-35s to meet an Iranian convoy traveling from Iraq or Syria. The use of these “flying computers” against such targets [drones and a weapons convoy] only shows Israel’s determination to take any Iranian threat seriously.

Let us tell you a little more about the Israeli F-35 Adir so that you understand that Iran has faced a threat that cannot be defeated with the Su-35. How are you going to attack a plane that can hit Iranian targets without even refueling in the air? Yes, although Israel refuels its F-16s and F-35s in the air, the F-35 Adir is actually an improved F-35A with a much-extended range.

The Stealth Adir can be armed with a one-ton bomb in its internal weapons bay. We say this because despite the bomb and despite the weight, Adir does not compromise its stealth signature in any way. There are also reports that Israel separately worked on the design of its F-35 fighter jets. Last but not least, Israel is arming its F-35s with its indigenous Rafael SPICE precision bomb. This bomb is highly resistant to any kind of jamming and is GPS-independent.

Against the background of all this information, the entry of the F-35 into Iranian airspace seems frightening. It appears that Israel has the “antidote” to catch Iran off guard.

There were no official reports of the F-35 entering Iranian airspace late last year. Why is this important? Well then, in November, Iran unveiled its new Bavar-373 anti-aircraft missile system with a new radar and a new missile [Sayyad B4]. This missile has a long range.


Tehran says that with the help of the Bavar-373, it will be able to intercept the F-35 at distances of 90 km from the system. But on what basis is such a claim based? On the face of it, the math may not be exact.

During the Bavar-373 test, Iran used a decoy HESA Karrar drone. This drone is not stealthy. Its radar cross-section [RCS] gravitates around the value of 1.64 square meters. But according to Iranian sources [@Pataramesh], the X-band radar was activated and intercepted the HESA Karrar at a distance of 376 km.

A senior officer from the command of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Forces [IRIADF] told Iran’s Tasnim news agency that the HESA Karrar was destroyed at an altitude of just over 12 km.

Lockheed’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters are known to have a radar cross-section of 0.0015 – 0.005 square meters. According to Iranian expert @Pataramesh Bavar-373 can intercept F-35 at a distance of 90 km from the system’s radar. He makes these calculations based on already available data from the HESA Karrar intercept with a radar cross-section of 1.64 square meters.

Iran introduced an air defense system analogous to the current S-300 and S-400
Photo credit: Defence-blog

That, however, is wrong, say other military experts in the field. You cannot reduce the distance between the aircraft and the X-band radar and, reaching the value of 0.0015 – 0.005 of the radar cross-section, calculate the remaining distance to the aircraft, claiming that this is the distance at which the aircraft is detectable for interception.

@Pataramesh, however, tries to justify his claims by opening a loophole in them – the interception of the F-35 by the Bavar-373 is possible if the missile has Semi-active radar homing [SARH] or the Seeker Aided Ground Guidance [ SAGG]. However, there is also a crack in the Iranian expert’s claims here. These missiles with similar guidance, Western experts say, rely on picking up radar signals reflected from the target. But that is precisely why the F-35 is called stealth – precisely because it hardly reflects such signals.

Iran unveils the two-silo AD-200 SAM firing Sayyad-4 Mach 5 missile
Photo credit: The Times of Israel

Iran faces a challenge. At the same time, despite the good news about the acquisition of the Su-35. It will not be easy for Tehran to respond to a threat it does not really see – the F-35 Adir. Perhaps that is why there has been speculation over the past few months that the S-400 air defense system is becoming the next target for purchase by the Iranian military. But will the S-400 be able to outperform the F-35? Many questions, the answers to which we may one day learn.


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