00:41 GMT +313 December 2019
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    The latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems, which entered service with the Baltic Fleet air defense system in the Kaliningrad Region

    Patriot Missile Systems Disguised as Russia's S-400 Used in Israeli Air Force Drills – Report

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    While only one country in the region possesses the cutting-edge Russian defence system, other regional actors have also expressed interest in it. Conflicting media reports suggest that one of Israel's key rivals, Iran, might have also sought to obtain such systems.

    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.

    First F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, lands at Leeuwarden Air Base in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, on October 31, 2019. - The Dutch Defence Ministry ordered some 46 JSFs from the American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin
    © AFP 2019 / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN
    First F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, lands at Leeuwarden Air Base in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, on October 31, 2019. - The Dutch Defence Ministry ordered some 46 JSFs from the American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin

    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.

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    Tags:
    military exercise, military drills, Israel, F-35I, F-35I Adir, S-400
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