Amid talks on Iran's nuclear program, major IAF exercise enters second week

Drill began with simulated long-distance strike to prepare squadrons for possibility of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

October 17, 2013 02:16
1 minute read.
IAF plane refuels midflight during long range mission drill

IAF long range mission drill 370. (photo credit: Courtesy IDF)

A major IAF exercise continued this week in Israeli skies, where jets simulated a variety of battle scenarios.

The drills began last week with a simulation of long-distance strikes to prepare squadrons for the possibility of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

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The various drills are part of a single, very large aerial exercise. Defense officials said no further information could be divulged at this stage.

Should Israel strike nuclear sites in Iran, defense observers widely assume the IAF would also have to focus its efforts on squelching rocket attacks from Tehran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, which could target air bases.

The IDF believes Iran has a limited ability to hit Israel with ballistic missiles, and Arrow 2 and Patriot air defense systems are in place to intercept any Iranian attacks.

Last week the army issued some of its most explicit warnings over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program to date, releasing video images of IAF jets conducting midair refueling far from Israel.

“When one mentions that ‘all options are on the table,’ it’s clear that military operations are also being talked about,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. “The air force, which is the IDF’s long arm, is responsible for realizing this option if necessary, and to that end squadrons are practicing and strengthening the full range of their abilities, including long-range flights.”

The preparations are aimed at giving the air force the ability to carry out both broad and pinpoint long-range missions.

The military added that the air force has carried out such training on a regular basis in recent years, and tests all aspects of long-distance sorties, from the squadrons in the air to the ability of its command and control center to manage the missions.

Pilots who took part in the exercise said it tested their powers of concentration over an extended period.

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