Officials: Israeli jets flying over Iraqi territory in preparation for strike on Iran - Ynet
Sources in Iraq's Defense Ministry say for past month Israel using American bases to conduct overflights as part of rehearsal for possible bombing or Iranian nuclear facilities
Roee Nahmias Published: 07.11.08, 11:54 / Israel News
Israeli fighter jets have been flying over Iraqi territory for over a month in preparation for potential strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, sources in the Iraqi Defense Ministry told a local news network Friday, adding that the aircraft have been landing in American bases following the overflights.
Word of Israel's alleged Air Force maneuvers in Iraq has reached Iran. The sources said the US has boosted security in and around the bases used by Israel during the exercises.
According to the Defense Ministry officials, retired Iraqi army officers in the Al Anbar district reported that fighter jets have been regularly entering Iraqi airspace from Jordan and landing at the airport near Haditha.
The sources estimated that should the Israeli jets take off from the American bases it would take them no more than five minutes to reach Iran's nuclear reactor in Bushehr.
American officials said recently that more than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters took part in maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June, apparently a rehearsal for a potential bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities.
The IAF using American airbases in Iraq to prepare for an attack on Iran? For anyone who doubts that the relationship between Israel and the US is strong, this story should put an end to such doubt. Given the combination of a strategic relationship with a common threat, the report appears highly credible. Why would the US allow an IAF attack to originate from bases in Iraq, a country which still is not very fond of Israelis and will be placed in harm's way during an Iranian retaliation to occur unless the need is great and the relationship tight? The clear advantage for Israel in the closer range is sortie time and turn around time taking considerable pressure of the pilots.
The likely results of an Israeli attack on Iran would be a missile strike response on American positions in Iraq along with a medium range missile attack on Israel. How effective the missile defense systems will be in limiting the damage remains an uncertainty. While I am not an expert in missile systems, I would welcome feedback from readers to the question, would US anti-missile systems be capable of launching against Iranian missiles targeted against Israel (presumably over-flying Iraqi airspace? I might speculate yes. And, moving the launch point to Iraq possibly draws fire away from Israel, a calculation most likely responded to by the Iranians this week with their declaration that an Israeli attack will be met with missiles fired at Tel Aviv.
Most telling though, is the strategic calculation that the US and Israel have made. Israel is counting on Iran directing counter attacks against US positions in the region. But what if, Iran only counter-attacks specifically against Israel? Thus, we have the Condi Rice quotes from this week saying the US will defend her allies in the region. Israel is counting upon an Iranian strike on US targets in order to draw the US (with a US wink and nod approval) into the conflict, giving George W. Bush Jr. every opportunity to fire back without appearing to have started shooting first. This sort of attack needs sustained bombing possibly up to a couple of weeks worth, not only to inflict significant damage to the Iranian nuclear (nuklar) program but to knock out Iran's ability to defend her airspace, launch missiles, maintain effective communication, command and control, political targets, etc., and generally keep Iran from sustaining an organized and meaningful counter attack based upon full tactical capacity.
Such a sustained offensive cannot be managed by an IAF with other responsibilities (northern border for instance) and a limitation of aircraft and manpower. It requires the hundreds of combat aircraft and personnel available only to the USAF and USN. The IAF only holds approximately 127 of the most advanced variants of the F-16i and F-15i (pictured below) although there are reportedly approximately 230 older model F-16s available and maybe 65 older variants of F-15 available Global Security - IAF inventory. APRPEH has speculated for some time that the Israeli Navy's submarine launched cruise missile capability may make the difference in the expected attack, taking a lead role in fact. If Iran does counter attack with medium range missiles, don't be surprised if Israel launches Jericho missiles in response. The advantage of the cruise missile strike is that it keeps pilots fresh for when you need them and the missiles are of course highly accurate. They would, however, only be useful as penetration support, IE, knocking out radars, anti-aircraft systems, command and control, etc, where the targets are not hardened or buried.
However, it is the unexpected which, as in all military operations, is scary. Iranian blocking of the Strait of Hormuz, preventing access from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and disrupting the free flow of oil is now a well known expected response from Iran, one for which the US Navy has certainly (we hope) prepared a plan to prevent. At the very least half sinking a couple of oil filled supertankers and igniting them would most certainly cause a huge spike in world wide oil prices and delay enough of a percentage in the total supply of world oil to cause a panic and result in international pressure to condemn Israel and force the US to back off. What else may Iran have planned? Terrorist dooms day cell activated? Hezbollah attack? More northern kidnappings? Unexpected sympathy move by Hamas? Iranian F-14 loaded with bombs on a suicide flight against US targets? What, if any of the Iranian air force will fly against the US and Israeli aircraft is also an unknown.
All such calculations those that can be presumed have certainly been presumed. The question returns to the cost of not acting in the future to the short term cost of acting to stop Iran today. Bush will act. McCain probably would act. Obama, probably not. For this reason, Israel must plan her strike now and execute it before November 4th and at the very latest before the official hand off of the US Presidency at noon (EST), January 20, 2009.
Having just engaged in a very physical world discussion, I would like to end by bringing this around the other way, to the true strength of the Jewish people. It is our prayer and faith which obliges HaShem to remember us in the good times and the bad. It is our eyes and voices lifted up, unified, and directed in prayer and purpose which characterizes the Jewish way. It is HaShem in charge of all events, no less now than in the past and all events have a purpose. Should the events described above take place it is important to focus on the understanding for which we are required to strive, the achdus we are required to build, and the emuna in our Creator we must hold above us, no matter what the results.
It is my concern that in these times of such division amongst the Jewish people that HaShem could judge us for a significant dose of onesh intent on driving us back together and bringing us closer to our mission, not a mission demonstrating military capability but to make this world a dwelling place for Him. If removing the Iranian threat is a function of that mission, Israel will certainly prevail, if not, who knows.
Since I am no navi and I am not in the business of prophecy, such words are mere speculation. It is however, my prayer that the Jewish people rally around our calling, to open our hearts to his Torah and raise our voices in prayer and learning to make this world a dwelling place for HaShem. When we do so, the threats that currently face us will vanish.
Sufa - F-16 on steriods