[News] The anatomy of an attack on Iran

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 1 10:30:07 EDT 2010


Middle East
Jul 1, 2010

The anatomy of an attack on Iran
By David Moon

In mid-June, Hugh Tomlinson in the Times of London wrote that the 
of Saudi Arabia conferred on Israel the "green light" for use of its 
airspace for an attack on Iran. This revelation was said to be 
conventional wisdom inside the Saudi military. Tomlinson also quoted 
an unnamed United States military source stating to the effect that 
the US Department of State and the Defense Department had both said 
"grace" over this arrangement.
The Saudis and Israelis immediately denied the report, while US 
officials made no specific comments on the subject. The silence and 
denials nixed further media speculation.

First reported in the Times of London in July 2009 and referred to 
again in Tomlinson's recent article is word of a supposed meeting 
between Israel's Mossad chief Meir Dagan and unnamed Saudi 
intelligence leaders to discuss such an arrangement that both 
governments denied then and now.

Given the apparent regional political status quo, how might the 
Israeli Air Force (IAF) strike Iran undetected on approach and at the 
very least unacknowledged on return if the decision is made in 
Jerusalem that the existential threat posed by Iran's arc of nuclear 
progress can no longer safely be tolerated?

Although the coordination of logistics and tactics of such a long 
distance mission - 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) on the straight 
line from Tel Aviv to Iran's uranium enrichment facility in Natanz - 
is daunting, the strategic or political realities must be defined 
before all else.

Overflight of Iraq on a direct bearing to Iran is out of the 
question. Such a path would cause friction between the US, 
responsible for Iraq's aerial sovereignty, and the next Iraqi 
government sure to be of delicate composition. It's safe to assume 
that the US views stability in Iraq far higher on the national 
interest meter than say apartments in east Jerusalem, thus for Israel 
the straight line over Iraq comes at a price that it can ill afford to pay.

The likely route to Iran, beginning at regional dusk preferably in 
the dark a new moon, is to fly a great circle around Iraq. Only 
careful planning carried out with precision timing and execution will 
ensure success. For this route, almost every applicable IAF logistics 
and support asset would be utilized.

The first leg for any F-15I and F-16I fighter bombers is a low-level 
run up the Mediterranean in the area of the Syrian town of Latakin, 
where up to three KC-707s (aerial tankers) in race track orbit would 
top up the tanks of the strike group. This tankage is absolutely 
necessary for the shorter-legged F-16I (range 1,300 miles). Refueling 
the F-15I (range 2765 miles) is desirable but not a necessity unless 
intelligence suggests targets beyond eastern Iran.

To skirt Turkish airspace and the ability of the Turkish military to 
raise an alarm heard throughout the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization (NATO), the strike group with two pairs of Gulfstream 
G-550s: one of each outfitted as a network-centric collaborative 
targeting (NCCT) and one each employing Senior Suter technology must 
fly low across northern Syria. The G-550 is a small package with the 
range the speed to accompany the strike group 
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LG01Ak01.html#>round trip 
without refueling - therefore up to the challenge.

ferrets out air defense radars. The Suter partner beams a data stream 
containing, what in computer parlance is called a "worm", into air 
defense radars with the capability of incapacitating an entire air 
defense network, if such a network is under centralized control.

This technology pioneered by the US Air Force and part of the code 
named the "Big Safari" program is heady stuff said to work wonders 
over Syria during the IAF's strike on Syria's North Korean-designed 
nuclear reactor in September 2007. The support of the G-550s will be 
instrumental every mile of the mission.

Non-networked anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) in states hostile to 
Israel may necessitate F-16Is in the tried and true AGM-88 high speed 
anti-radiation missile (HARM) mission.

Yet another application of high technology was the launch on June 11, 
2007, of Ofek-7, as noted by Richard B Gasparre, also a source on 
G-550s in IAF service at airforce-technology.com, is a "... 
reconnaissance satellite, which gives Israeli intelligence 
specialists site and system mapping capability of unprecedented 
accuracy". Ofek-7 undoubtedly contributed to strike planning for the 
IAF's mission to Syria.

These powerful tools will be counted on to enable the strike package 
to skirt either Turkish or Iraqi airspace for a short jump of 150 or 
so miles to reach Iranian airspace undetected. The distance on a 
straight line from Latakin to Tabriz in Iran is 618 miles. The 
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LG01Ak01.html#>flight is 
shorter if the Israelis avoid Turkey and cut the Kurdish corner.

At a designated point over northern Iran, the strike group splits 
into Q and E-flights. Q-Flight flies southeast 348 miles to reach the 
known uranium-enrichment sites in Qom (under construction) and Natanz 
(operational). E-Flight homes in on the gas storage development site 
at Esfahan and the heavy water reactor complex at Arak on a more 
southerly path of 481 miles.

All the while in Iranian airspace, the G-550 Suter and NCCT aircraft 
work in tandem and with F-16I aircraft to suppress radars and AAA, 
while F-15Is designated top cover guard against any air-to-air threat 
put up by Iran's air force.

The strike package can count on aid in the form of Popeye Turbo 
cruise missiles launched by at least one Israeli submarine from the 
Arabian Sea against targets in Iran designed to shield the Israeli 
planes, degrade enemy responses and sow confusion among the Iranian military.

At some point, one of the three US Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint ELINT 
(electronic intelligence) platforms in the area will "see" Iranian 
air defense radars and hear an explosion of Iranian voices on open 
airwaves and quickly piece together events in Iran. This collected 
product will be immediately passed through Central Command to 
for dissemination to the principles of the National Security Council, 
including US President Barack Obama.
Seven hours earlier, at least three IAF KC-707s would have flown the 
3,500 miles around the Arabian Peninsula, likely painted up like 
commercial 707 cargo aircraft, transiting international airspace to a 
meeting point over the northern Persian Gulf. At this extreme range, 
each KC-707 carries only an estimated 85,000 lbs of fuel to pass to 
the hungry F-16Is flying 451 miles from Qom and 350 miles from Esfahan.

Each F-16I will require at least 5,000 lbs of jet fuel for the final 
leg of nearly 1,000 miles through northern Saudi Arabia then home. 
Thus, a hinge point in IAF planning; the Israelis must determine the 
mix of F-16Is and KC-707s committed to the mission.

On and over the Persian Gulf, given the presence of US Navy and Air 
Force AWACS platforms such as the EC-2 Hawkeye and E-3 Sentry along 
with SPY-1 radars of US Navy cruisers and destroyers, the Israelis 
can have no expectation at all that the refueling scrum of the F-16Is 
will go undetected. During this evolution, any IAF planes too damaged 
to make it home can ditch close to a US Navy ship with a reasonable 
expectation of rescue.

Much will depend on what the US does with the information in hand. 
Does Obama choose to inform Iraqi and Gulf Cooperation Council allies 
of the situation, or will various US radars simply go into 
"diagnostic mode", as if operators cannot believe what they see?

If Obama's decision is to watch and listen, the strike group can try 
a run for home across northern Saudi Arabia. Here, the Saudis have a 
decision. The Saudi Air Force can defend the kingdom's airspace, 
possibly taking loses and handing out same, or the Israelis can bet 
on G-550s tricking out the kingdom's air defenses in a manner that 
gives the Saudis an excuse to say they were blinded by the IAF and 
the non-cooperation of the US.

By flying north, the IAF reaps the benefits of plausible deniability, 
a political necessity for US and allied Arab states. These states can 
honestly say they had no prior knowledge of IAF planes winging it to 
Iran with full racks of missiles and bombs.

Another option is available to the Israelis to increase the IAF's 
odds of flying the northern leg undetected. This choice is to strike 
the "Duchy of Nasrallah" - Hezbollah under Hassan Nasrallah in 
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LG01Ak01.html#>Lebanon - to 
create cover and sow confusion. If the IAF is to strike Iran, 
immediate blowback is to be expected from Iran-supported Hezbollah's 
extensive inventory of unguided missiles.

On June 18, the 
carrier USS Harry S Truman and task group including the German 
frigate Hessen in the company of an unidentified Israeli naval vessel 
made a fast transit of the Suez Canal. The Egyptians not only closed 
the canal to all traffic, all fishing boats where docked, while the 
Egyptian military lined the banks of the canal. All facets of this 
passage rank as extraordinary.

It is readily apparent that the US Department of State and the 
Pentagon collaborated closely with an Arab country to create a lane 
of fast transit not only for US Navy assets and an attached NATO 
ally, but for an Israeli ship.

One more element, the IDF launched their improved Ofek-9 
reconnaissance satellite on June 22. Is this a matter of timing or of 

Tensions are high in the region, yet little could precipitate a full 
diplomatic meltdown quicker than for Iran to directly challenge 
Israel's blockade of Gaza. And this confrontation is in no way 
limited to Israel and Iran. Such a provocation could easily inflame 
public opinion in Sunni Arab states, where leaders are weary of 
Tehran's grandstanding on the question of Israel. Tehran's rhetoric 
of threats toward Israel politically undermines Arab governments seen 
as less fervent on the subject.

CNN reported on June 24 on Iran's canceled designs to directly test 
the Gaza blockade. Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary general of the 
International Conference for the Support of the Palestinian Intifada, 
said, "In order not to give the Zionist regime an excuse, we will 
send the aid through other routes and without Iran's name."

Sheiholeslam's comment makes little sense, as the point of Iran's aid 
exercise was to win the propaganda war against Israel and Arab 
states. Whatever Iran's "excuse", there is reason now to suspect the 
Tehran regime will back down if decisively confronted by a motivated 
and unified coalition of area states.

David Moon is a regular contributor from the United States. He can be 
contacted at <mailto:uscontributor at aol.com>uscontributor at aol.com.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20100701/c546fb67/attachment.html>

More information about the News mailing list