F-35s engage in daring ‘buzzing’ maneuvers near Russian Su-35

In the preceding week, it was asserted by Russian authorities that two American F-35 Lightning II fighter jets were operating in a manner they deemed as ‘dangerously close’ to their Su-35s in the contested airspace above Syria. 

A high-ranking officer within the Russian military subsequently elaborated, stating that their Su-34 and Su-35 fighter jets were compelled to engage their defensive systems following the detection of radar tracking emanating from the American stealth fighters. These occurrences represent a continuum of Russian incitements, characterizing the tense atmosphere in the aerial space above Syria.

Behind Russia’s incitements in the Middle East 

In the wake of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, there has been a discernible increase in the frequency of Russian military aircraft operations in Syrian airspace, as noted by high-ranking officials in the U.S. military.

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet
Photo credit: Twitter

An incident in March saw two Russian Su-27 jets render an American unmanned aerial vehicle inoperative over the Black Sea, an overt act of provocation that was met with stern condemnation from the Pentagon. The U.S. Air Force was compelled to decommission the MQ-9 Reaper drone subsequent to a calculated maneuver by a duo of Russian fighter aircraft, who, in a show of defiance, jettisoned fuel onto it. 

Labeling the remarkable upswing in reckless and belligerent conduct as “buffoonery in the air”, the Combined Forces Air Component Commander for CENTCOM, Lt. Gen Alexus Grynkewich, highlighted an alarming trend.

In a notable incident in March, an American F-16 Fighting Falcon, while soaring over the skies of Syria, was reported to have encountered an unsafe and unprofessional intercept by a Russian Su-35 jet. This incident served to underscore the escalating tension and hazard in the airspace.

The Russian-Iranian alliance

There is a prevailing sentiment among several U.S. analysts that Moscow’s burgeoning affinity with Tehran might be serving as a catalyst for its increasing provocations over the Syrian issue. The Iranian regime has, over the past year, equipped the Kremlin with an array of deadly unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs].

Despite initial denials from Tehran regarding the supply of these armaments, U.S. authorities have now garnered substantial evidence to the effect that a significant portion of the combat drones deployed in attacks on critical infrastructure, military resources, and civilian dwellings in Ukraine originate from Iran.

In the month of July, the United States made a strategic move by positioning its advanced F-35 and F-22 fifth-generation fighter jets, with the explicit aim of dissuading Iran and Russia from launching any form of aggressive actions.

The motivation behind this deployment can be traced back to the recent activities of Iranian vessels, which have been noticeably targeting oil tankers in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz. This constitutes a grave provocation that necessitates a decisive response from the U.S. and its allied nations.

As asserted by Grynkewich, it appears that Iran and Russia are intent on expediting the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, possibly engaging in a coordinated effort to achieve this objective. Over several years, the governments of Tehran and Moscow have consistently leveled accusations against Washington, asserting their alleged support for groups affiliated with al Qaeda in their opposition to the Syrian regime.

Iran buys 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighters produced for Egypt
Photo credit: UAC

In an unexpected turn of events, May saw the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency leveling a grave accusation against the United States. He publicly asserted that America has been involved in the training of ISIS fighters, with the alleged activities taking place primarily at the Al-Tanf base, strategically located on the border between Jordan and Iraq.

Should F-22 and F-35 fail to deter, no other forces will prevail

The strategic positioning of advanced stealth fighters in Syria by Washington signifies a calculated move to counteract the escalating aggression from Russia and Iran in the region. The F-22 Raptor, a formidable force in the annals of military aviation, has the distinction of being the very first fifth-generation fighter to ever ascend the skies. Its design incorporates a minuscule radar cross-section and thrust vectoring engines, endowing it with an unmatched capability to outmaneuver and outperform any near-peer competitor. 

Designed by the U.S. aerospace industry as the successor to its predecessor, the F-35 Lightning II from Lockheed Martin stands as the epitome of fifth-generation fighter technology. The Lightning II, adorned with the quintessential attributes of an advanced jet, is poised to anchor the tactical aviation divisions of not only the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, but also serve U.S. partner nations in the coming decades.

The three distinct models of the F-35 are all imbued with stealth technology, encompassing aspects from radar-absorbent materials to meticulously crafted surfaces and uniquely engineered engine intakes. This stealth technology, a cornerstone of modern military aviation, affords the aircraft an unparalleled advantage in evading detection. 

The F-35’s superiority is further enhanced by its advanced electronics and avionics systems. Among these, a highly sensitive AESA radar stands out, offering extraordinary detection capabilities. In addition, a state-of-the-art electro-optical targeting system is integrated into each aircraft, providing pilots with an unprecedented wealth of information, thereby augmenting their situational awareness and decision-making capabilities in high-stakes environments.  

One can observe a notable disparity in sophistication between the Raptor and the Lightning II when juxtaposed with their Russian equivalents. This highlights the advanced technological prowess of these particular aircraft. 


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