Israel shot down two Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were making their way to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military confirmed Sunday night.
"In March 2021, the Iranian regime launched two UAVs toward Israeli territory. The UAVs were successfully intercepted by the Israeli Air Force's F-35i 'Adir' aircraft," a military spokesperson said in a statement, adding that this was the first time an F-35i aircraft shot down a drone in an operational setting.
"The interception of the UAVs was carried out prior to them entering Israeli airspace, in coordination with neighboring countries. The UAVs were detected and tracked throughout their flight by ground control units."
Defense sources estimate this was an attempt by the Iranians to smuggle weapons into Gaza.
The announcement comes as Tehran inching ever closer toward signing a new nuclear deal with world power in Vienna.
Iran has significantly improved its drone fleet in recent years, although its capabilities still lag far behind Israel's.
Tehran has developed drones of various sizes and for a variety of missions, from reconnaissance to carrying explosives for offensive operations many hundreds of miles away.
The project is led by the Iranian Air Force, along with Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guards group and its elite Quds Force, who export the technology to their proxies across the Middle East in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.