Israeli Air Force has doubled their air strike abilities twice in the past two years. By the end of 2014 they will see an improvement of 400% to our offensive capabilities relative to the recent past as a result of a long improvement process.
They can accurately strike thousands of targets in one day.
Israeli Air Force (IAF) chief Major General Amir Eshel stated that the air strikes that IAF aircraft carried out over a three-day period during the 2006 war with the Lebanese group Hizbullah could now be achieved in 24 hours and that the 1,500 strikes carried out during the week-long Operation ‘Pillar of Defence’ against militants in the Gaza Strip in November 2012 would now take 12 hours.
“I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States from both an offensive and defensive standpoint,” he said.
IAF officials have declined to disclose what specific upgrades have allowed such a rapid increase in firepower, but sources say that the new systems that have been added to the IAF’s F-15 and F-16 multirole fighters are creating capabilities that were “borderline fantasy” 15 years ago.
A single aircraft can hit multiple targets with far less input from the pilot, effectively allowing it to carry out ground-attack missions that would have previously required several aircraft. The increased availability of stand-off weapons also means that targets can be attacked at longer ranges.
The enhanced air power has renewed the debate among senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers as to whether a ground offensive would still be required to neutralise Hizbullah rocket fire in a future conflict. The IAF initially attempted to do this during the 2006 conflict, but troops ultimately had to be sent across the border to find the well-concealed rocket-launching positions.
According to senior defence sources, the IDF’s General Staff has concluded that a ground operation would still be essential to ensuring that Hizbullah sustains a level of damage that would require many years for it to recover.
Bunker Busters and Iran
Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the retired former chief of Air Force intelligence and air campaign planner for Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom, and Michael Makovsky, CEO of JINSA and a former Pentagon official, wrote:
Israel has 2,000- and 5,000-pound bunker-buster bombs, some of which were delivered by the Obama administration. Iranian planners, however, might hope that these will prove insufficient to do major damage. The U.S. should remove such doubt by providing Israel with the capability to reach and destroy Iran’s most deeply buried nuclear sites. The U.S. could do this by providing an appropriate number of GBU-57 30,000-pound bunker-buster bombs, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator or MOP, and several B-52 bombers.
The Pentagon has developed the MOP bomb specifically for destroying hardened targets. It can penetrate as deeply as 200 feet underground before detonating, more than enough capability to do significant damage to Iran’s nuclear program. There are no legal or policy limitations on selling MOPs to Israel, and with an operational stockpile at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the U.S. has enough in its arsenal to share.
Israel, however, also lacks the aircraft to carry the MOP. Which means the U.S. would need to provide planes capable of carrying such a heavy payload. Only two can do so: the B-52 and the stealth B-2.
The U.S. has only 20 B-2s and would not share such a core component of nuclear deterrence. Nor is the Pentagon willing to part with active B-52s.
There are more than a dozen of the relatively “newest” B-52H bombers—built in the early 1960s—in storage. Some of these should be delivered to Israel. There’s no legal or policy impediments to their transfer; they would just have to be refurbished and retrofitted to carry the MOP.
By transferring to Israel MOPs and B-52Hs the administration would send a signal that its ally, which already has the will, now has the ability to prevent a nuclear Iran. Once they are delivered — ideally as the current six-month interim deal is set to expire in July — Iran will be put on notice that its nuclear program will come to an end, one way or another.