F-35 forced to land after bird-strike during Independence Day fly-by

IDF says incident didn’t involve emergency landing, with plane touching down safely at southern base; earlier, attack helicopter was forced to the ground by technical fault

An IAF F-35I fighter jet takes part in an independence day airshow, in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2023 (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)
An IAF F-35I fighter jet takes part in an independence day airshow, in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2023 (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

Israel’s stealthy F-35 fighter planes might be able to avoid radar, but one of the high-tech jets was unable to dodge a bird it hit during an Independence Day fly-by on Wednesday, causing the plane to land at a base in the south of the country.

The plane, which costs over $80 million, suffered a “minor hit” from the bird, the IDF said in a statement that stressed the F-35 did not make an emergency landing and the pilot was not injured.

It was the second time during the day that an Israeli Air Force aircraft participating in a flyover aborted its mission and headed to the ground.

Earlier an attack helicopter pulled out of an Independence Day fly-by and landed in open ground near Kibbutz Ga’ash in the central region of the country, the IDF said.

The Apache helicopter landed due to a technical fault, the military said. There were no injuries in the incident.

Images and video posted to social media showed an Apache combat helicopter on the ground with curious locals gathered around it.

Channel 13 reporter Or Heller said that children from the kibbutz brought the pilots popsicles and drinks.

In return, the crew gave the children a close-up tour of the helicopter.

Over 100 aircraft were taking part in a series of fly-bys in honor of the 75th Independence Day. Some jets from foreign air forces also participated in the displays across the country.

An Israeli Air Force AH-64 Apache attack helicopter flies over during an air show in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2023, as Israel marks Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut), 75 years since the establishment of the Jewish state. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)

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