There is a video according to which a F-35 aircraft has been struck by a bird in Israel. This, allegedly, disabled its stealth capability.

More than a year earlier, two storks allegedly damaged another F-35 and made "maintenance work" necessary.

Can a bird that lives in Israel and surroundings actually make a F-35 lose its stealth abilities?


3 Answers 3


The F-35 is a plane that relies on safety via stealth, rather than armor. The F-35 fuselage can be dented much like any other plane. The F-35 uses a variety of methods to reduce the its radar signature, most of which revolve around the "skin" of the fuselage - the way the fuselage is physically shaped is meant to reduce the reflection of radar, and there are various paint and material considerations as well.

When at any considerable speed, a bird strike will tear right into the fuselage. Take for example the following picture of a bird strike on a separate military fighter.

When the fuselage is damaged in this way, the radar waves are no longer being strategically reflected or absorbed, and the aircraft becomes suddenly very visible on radar.


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ can you please add the source of the photo? $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jan 9, 2019 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ I'm glad there's a red circle in that photo, I wouldn't have seen the problem otherwise. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2019 at 18:46

The answer is yes. The damage done and to what extent the airplane’s RCS was compromised depends on the type of bird that hit, the location of the hit, the speed at which the impact took place and the total damage done.

Birdstrike can puncture holes in airframes, shatter canopies, damage engines and wreak all kinds of havoc. If this compromises the shape and external RAM coatings, The airplanes RCS will increase dramatically. This can be repaired, though I don’t know if the Israelis as yet have the facilities to do so at this time.

That video strikes me more as conspiracies and speculation than reported fact. I would take it with a grain of salt.


There have been numerous losses of military aircraft as a result of bird strikes, including multi-engined types. If a bird can cause serious damage, this suggests that an intentional collision with a small UCAV weighing, say, 100kg would result in loss of the aircraft in most cases.

It used to be claimed that the B2 bomber had a radar signature that was similar to a large insect. Taken literally, this would mean that if a large insect became stuck on the nose of the aircraft, it's radar signature would be doubled.


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