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Italian F-35A Pilot Reboot Own System After Coming Under Attack From Russian Su-30SM’s “Khibiny EW”

Confronted with the malfunctioning systems of the F-35A, the Italian pilot realized that his aircraft was under attack by the "Khibiny" electronic warfare system carried by the Russian Su-30SM fighter jet he was facing.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) –The detection and warning system of the Italian Air Force’s fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets reportedly “failed to function” following an electronic warfare (EW) attack by Russian Su-30SM fighter aircraft.

This incident, as reported by the Italian media, occurred shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine and waged war against its neighboring country.

In response to Russia’s invasion, NATO deployed Italian Air Force F-35A aircraft in April to monitor the airspace of Baltic nations, particularly Estonia, which borders Russia.

The Italian F-35A jets are based in Amendola, located in southern Italy.

One month after their arrival in Estonia, the Italian F-35As were tasked with “air policing” missions in the Baltic airspace when they were intercepted by Russian fourth-generation Su-30SM fighter jets.

Pesawat Su-30 bersama pod EW “Khibiny.”


The Russian fighter jet was forced to intercept the Italian F-35 after the American-made fifth-generation fighter came too close to the AN-12 transport plane it was escorting.

“The Russian fighter appeared suddenly. I was very confused because I did not expect it to be that close,” stated the Italian F-35 pilot regarding the unexpected proximity of the Russian Su-30SM.

The Russian jet stubbornly remained close to the Italian F-35A, during which time the advanced detection and warning system of the Lockheed Martin aircraft “failed to function,” forcing the pilot to “restart it multiple times” to ensure it was operational again.

Translate to professional journalist English:
The pilot of the Italian F-35A had been repeatedly warned that the Russian fighter jets might be employing an electronic warfare system known as “Khibiny.”

The “Khibiny” electronic warfare system was developed during the Soviet era, receiving significant attention in the 1980s through a collaboration between KNIRTI and Sukhoi.

Pod EW “Khibiny”


The “Khibiny” electronic warfare (EW) system has been upgraded several times and is currently not only employed by the Su-30 but also the Su-34.

Faced with the malfunctioning of the systems on the F-35A, the Italian pilot realized that his aircraft was under attack by the “Khibiny” electronic warfare system carried by the Russian Su-30SM fighters he was confronting.

As the Russian fighter rapidly approached, the Italian pilot executed the trained response to such situations: he attempted a “reboot” and tried to distance himself from the Russian aircraft.

However, the attempt was unsuccessful, and both fighter jets came extremely close to each other.

The Italian pilot stated that typically, in border areas, fighter jets merely signal warnings but not in this incident, where his aircraft became a target of electronic warfare by the Russian plane.


“Suddenly, the Su-30SM vanished from sight and once again the detection system of the F-35A malfunctioned. The Su-30SM then reappeared abruptly in front of and very close to the F-35A.”

“Suddenly, I was paralyzed with fear. I did not expect such a dangerous maneuver from the Russian pilot,” said the Italian pilot, adding that several systems on the aircraft began to malfunction again.

The situation persisted for a while before the Russian Su-30SM ceased its hazardous maneuvers and no longer ‘challenged’ the Italian F-35A.

The Italian pilot expressed that the Russian Su-35SM was likely testing the capabilities of the F-35A, but he had been previously briefed on the capabilities of both the Russian aircraft and its pilots.


He knew that Russian pilots were capable of executing high-level tactical maneuvers.

However, the pilot of the Italian fighter jet expressed his surprise that a modern American aircraft, equipped with all the latest technology and weaponry, could be so easily “overpowered.”

This was especially unexpected given that the Su-30SM is a fourth-generation aircraft, albeit upgraded. — DSA