Israeli F-16I Sufa Crashes After Coming Under Massive Anti-Aircraft Fire From Syrian Air Defense

Iranian UAV that infiltrated the Israeli airspace is shot down by an AH-64 Apache. Then, Israeli Air Force jets launch retaliatory air strikes in Syria.  An F-16I is hit and crashes in northern Israel. Two pilots eject, one is seriously injured.

“On February 10, 2018, an Apache helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel. The aircraft was identified by the Aerial Defense Systems early on and was under surveillance until the interception. In response, IDF attacked the Iranian aircraft’s launch components in Syrian territory,” says an Israeli Defense Force release.

Here’s the footage of the downing of the drone:

Based on the footage, the UAV shot down by the AH-64 seems to be a Saeqeh (Thunderbolt), one of those unveiled by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in 2016 and seemingly based on the captured U.S. RQ-170 stealth drone (H/T to Michael Cruickshank for IDing the drone).

The UAV shot down on Feb. 10 bears much resemblance with the drone (based on the captured RQ-170) unveiled by Iran in 2016.

Still, what happened later is possibly more important:

“Later, also in response to the Iranian UAV that was launched at Israeli territory and was intercepted by the IDF, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft targeted 12 targets in Syria, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria. During the attack, multiple anti-aircraft missiles were fired at IAF aircraft. The two pilots of an F-16 ejected from the aircraft as per procedure, one of whom was seriously injured and taken to the hospital for medical treatment.”

According to the first reports the F-16 was a Sufa and several SA-5 and SA-17 were launched at the Israeli jets, but there is no official confirmation. Actually the wording used by the IDF is worth of note: they don’t even explicitly say that the aircraft was “hit”, even though it seems pretty obvious. Interestingly, the Israeli military clearly stated the SAM fired at the Israeli Sufa was definitely Syrian:

Civilian air traffic suffered some disruption as Syrian missiles were fired in the northern part of the country:

Tel Aviv Ben Gurion opened to arrivals about 30 minutes later. Here’s one of the aircraft coming to landing after holding to the northwest of the airport:

There have been several Israeli air strikes in Syria in the last decades during those the Israeli combat aircraft have proved their ability to operate freely in the Syrian airspace. Reportedly, in spite of several raids, including some pretty famous operations, the last time an Israeli Air Force jet was shot down dates back to the first Lebanon War at the beginning of the ’80s.

H/T @avischarf @MJ_Cruickshank @AbraxasSpa for details and hints.

Top image credit: IDF


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. This article isn’t click bait material but the comments here are.
    As usual the nationalistic chest thumping and overall “quality” commentators come out of the wood work. Reading these comments is like watching an episode of real housewives or some other trashy “reality” tv shows. Seeing the responses is like watching two monkeys throw poop at one another.
    Not one… not one comment here is meaningful or provides any kind of insight let alone has substance.

    I knew this would happen and quickly devolve into swirl of stupidity.

    • The kettle calling the pot black.
      Interesting comment coming from the very active Uninform! In a way I agree with it; specially the “nationalistic chest thumping” bit.
      Rest assured, it will come back to haunt hypocrisy in this forum!

  2. The Jerusalem Post also had an article about what the pilots said.

    “We heard an explosion and realized we were hit,” said the pilots during their post-mission questioning, Channel 2 reported on Sunday. “It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, this loss of control. It’s not a long process and there is no time. Mere seconds. We knew that we must be quick and abandon [the jet] because we suffered physical injury and also because the plane had been hit and stopped functioning.”

    Does that mean they did not receive any warning that they were tracked by radar and a missile had been fired at them? Blinded by the Syrians with EW equipment? Or had the Russians turned on their Krasukha-4? The words also imply that they did not have much time and it’s not likely that the F-16 did fly a great distance from the hit until impact on the ground under these conditions.

    Israel wanted to escalate this further but did nothing after Putin called.

  3. Not just one but at least two Israeli warplanes have been shot down that day. Though it is not known what was the exact type of the second Israeli warplane, judging from the third video down below it might be a single-seat F-16.

    Here is a video showing one of the Israeli warplanes going down in night. This was the F-16I which debris were located near village of Harduf where the two Israeli pilots were rescued.

    While on this video, that was apparently filmed in the morning when the sun was already over the horizon, is seen one pilot descending on his parachute minutes after were likely ejecting out of his aircraft.

    Considering that the sky on the first video is yet dark, while on the second video clearly isn’t, no way this is the same pilot of the two-seat F-16I that was only confirmed to be lost.

    Anyway, good to see dated S-125/200 still rocks, as well as Western fanboys, especially Leroy, lossing their minds about this accident that is prooving them completely wrong.

    Now imagine if the Syrian Armed Forces would have same number of at least early S-300s as they have the S-125/200, Israeli warpanes would be either sitting ducks or we would see videos like those above more frequently.

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