Pilots in modified Israeli F-35I "Adir" jets, participating in Blue Flag war games, have tested their skills to conduct operations in areas covered by modern air defence systems, such as Russia’s S-400s, which were delivered to Turkey this year.
Due to the absence of actual S-400s, Israel and other participants in the war games from the US, Germany, Italy, and Greece used US-made Patriot missile batteries modified to emulate S-400s, the media outlet Breaking Defence reported. It's unclear though exactly how the Patriots were modified to match the S-400, which has two times the effective range than the American "analogue" and minimal set-up time.
Breaking Defence called the exercise "good practice" for the F-35Is, which have never actually encountered the S-400 in a real battle. So far Turkey is the only one in the Middle East region to possess the cutting-edge air defence system, though other states also expressed interest in buying it, namely Saudi Arabia.
One of Israel's main rivals in the region, Iran, also wished to buy Russian systems, according to Bloomberg citing anonymous sources. The media said that Moscow had declined the offer in a bid to avoid an escalation of tensions in the region. However, conflicting reports from a Russian media outlet, also citing an anonymous source, said that Moscow never received any requests from Tehran to buy S-400s.