iaf planes 298 88 idf.
(photo credit: IDF)
Iran's air force does not pose a threat to the Israeli Air Force, a high-ranking IDF officer has told The Jerusalem Post. IAF warplanes, he said, were capable of overcoming the air defense systems of all of Israel's neighbors.
"The Iranian air force is not a threat to the IAF," the officer told the Post. "None of our neighbors pose an aerial threat that the air force would not be able to deal with."
The officer stressed, however, that Teheran's race for nuclear weapons was not exclusively Israel's problem but was a threat to the entire Western world.
"Israel's greatest threat these days comes from Iran and their efforts to obtain nuclear power," he said. "But this is not just our problem and is a threat to the entire free world."
The Iranian Air Force is comprised of MiG 29 squadrons and other warplanes, some 30 years old. Their air defense systems, which are currently heavily deployed near the various nuclear sites, also feature Russian SA-2, SA-5, SA-6 and shoulder-launched SA-7 missiles, according to the Military Balance prepared by Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. The Iranians also have aged USmade Hawk missiles and have been seeking to purchase the sophisticated S-300P from Russia.
The United States, the officer said, was the preferable choice for launching a military strike against Iran. "America is a world superpower," he said. "And they could do it the best." But the officer said, Israel was closely following diplomatic developments on the Iranian issue at the United Nations Security Council. "At this stage we believe that the US and Europeans will stop Iran and its crazy leader [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]," he said.
Similar remarks were made two weeks ago by former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon who said that the IAF was capable of carrying out air strikes against several dozen sites. At the beginning of the month, the Post reported that Israel's Arrow 2 missile defense system was capable of intercepting Iranian Shihab and Scud missiles.
The air force, the officer said, was continuously purchasing new aircraft and developing new capabilities to ensure it maintained superiority over Israel's enemies and deterred them from even thinking of launching an attack against the Jewish state. Syria, he brought as an example, recently abandoned attempts to build up a strong air force and has begun investing most of its defenseallocated funds in ground-toground missiles.
But while Israel has clearly not ruled out military action against Iran, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Post last week that he believed diplomatic efforts could succeed in stopping Teheran's race for the bomb. If sanctions expected to be imposed on Iran by the Security Council were "extensive and decisive" they could be effective in stopping the nuclear program.
"If the sanctions - and the Iranians are afraid of them - will be extensive and decisive they can influence the Iranians," he said. As to the possibility of an Israeli military strike against Iran, Mofaz said, "Israel will defend itself."