IAF A-4, F-16 jets at Hatzerim_370.
(photo credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen)
The Israel Air Force is drafting a new operational doctrine aimed at improving
its ability to confront the proliferation of advanced surface-to-air missile
systems throughout the region.
Called “White Paper,” the plan is under
development by the IAF’s Operations Division and includes an analysis of each
front that Israel faces – Syria, Lebanon and Gaza – as well as the different SAM
systems that are located in the various areas of operations.
past year, for example, Syria has received several SA-17 batteries from Russia
under a deal signed several years ago. A number of batteries are already
operational and are deployed in Syria.
Also known as the Buk System, the
SA-17 has a range of about 30 km. and can intercept multiple targets flying at
altitudes of over 40,000 feet. The launchers are mounted on trucks and are
mobile, making them difficult targets.
Hezbollah in Lebanon is also
believed to have upgraded its SAM capabilities over the past year and the IDF
suspects that the guerrilla group – which is known to have a large number of
shoulder-launched missiles – also now has SA-8 truckmounted Russian tactical SAM systems. The SA-8 is
reported to have a range of 30 km.
On the southern front, Israel’s main
concern is shoulder-launched missiles that have been smuggled into the Gaza
The IAF also takes precautions now when flying along the border
with Egypt where terrorists are also believed to be stockpiling missiles. Last
August, a missile was fired at an Apache helicopter but missed.
suspects that some of the missiles that have been smuggled into Gaza and Sinai
originated in Libya, where large stockpiles of shoulderlaunched missiles went
missing following the revolution there last year.
“The threat to our
aerial superiority is growing and we need to adapt our operational plans to be
able to work despite the existence of these systems,” a senior IAF officer
The White Paper plan includes a number of layers – from the
development of hard kills (explosive) systems to the formulation of new flight
guidelines depending on the area of operations.
Most IAF craft carry
electronic warfare systems that are designed to neutralize
Others carry additional means, such as flares, to misdirect
A few months ago, Israel Military Industries introduced a
flare that is smaller and lighter than those currently in IAF inventory and
would enable aircraft to carry larger stockpiles enabling longer flights in
As revealed recently in The Jerusalem Post
, the air
force is also working together with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to develop a
hard kill system that can intercept SAMs fired at helicopters.
Fliker, the system fires an interceptor at incoming missiles and is designed to
minimize debris and thereby reduce the risk that shrapnel will hit and damage