An Israeli air force F15 fighter jet flies during an exhibition as part of a pilot graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim air base, southern Israel June 25, 2009.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israel is fully capable of striking Iran, a former Israel Air Force pilot – who took part in the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 – told The Jerusalem Post, amid saber rattling by the two archenemies.
“If the decision is taken by the political echelon, the air force pilots and planes are capable of doing it,” Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Nachumi said. “The attack against the Syrian reactor [in Deir al-Zor in 2007] is just one proof of that.”
Nachumi led one of two formations of four aircraft each that destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad.
According to Nachumi, the operations in Iraq and Syria were long-range missions carried out by F-15s and F-16s that were “capable of carrying them out with no aerial refueling.”
Rivlin calls on the free world to stop Iran from sponsoring terrorism, February 18,2018 (GPO)
The distance between Israel and Iran “makes it more complicated” than the strikes on Iraq and Syria, he said, acknowledging the obstacles which could arise in attacking the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.
Nonetheless, “Even though Syria is closer to us distance- wise, the complications are no less than what we are expecting if we go to Iran,” he said.
“But I am sure that the air force of today – which is by far more developed and advanced with technology that we did not have in 1981 – is capable of doing it.”
In December, the IAF became the first air force outside the United States to declare initial operational capability of its F-35 stealth fighter jets. The air force is expected to receive a total of 50 planes, making up two full squadrons by 2024.
The Adir version of the world’s most advanced and expensive fighter jet was designed to Israel’s specifications and is embedded with Israeli-made electronic warfare pods as well as Israeli weaponry.
The F-35I is expected to be used for long-range missions.