IAF completes major drill in Italy amid Iran attack rumors

Details of exercise over Sardinia released after Israel successfully tests missile launch; Barak: Test-firing an impressive achievement.

Airforce plane in Italy 311 (photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesman)
Airforce plane in Italy 311
(photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesman)
Israel conducted major offensive and defensive military drills on Wednesday, as reports of a possible future Iran strike continued to mount at home and abroad.
Air-raid sirens will ring out across the greater Tel Aviv area on Thursday morning at 10:05, as part of an extensive drill simulating a missile attack held by the IDF Home Front Command.
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The public was given little warning of the exercise, which will involve all the emergency services, and the handing of gas masks.
Meanwhile, the air force completed a large drill over the Italian island of Sardinia in recent days. Details of the exercise were released on Wednesday, in the shadow of intensive and controversial media reports over a possible Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Lt.-Col. Y., commander of the 117th Squadron of F-16 fighter jets that took part in the simulation, said his pilots flew over the sea, west of Italy, and carried out maneuvers together with the Italian Air Force.
“We simulated a common enemy. The cooperation between us and the Italians was very good,” the pilot said.
The 14 Israeli jets that took part in the drill flew in an area “encompassing 800 kilometers.”
The drill was planned six months in advance, and ended last week.
Pilots flew in a variety of formations and practiced striking simulated targets.
On Wednesday morning, Israel test-fired a missile from the Palmahim Air Force Base south of Rishon Lezion that was heralded by Defense Minister Ehud Barak as an important success in the nation’s strategic capabilities.
Foreign media reports said the missile was likely a Jericho 3 missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The smoke trail from the launch was seen by many residents of the Central region in the sunny morning sky.
Barak congratulated the defense community.
“This is an impressive technological achievement, and an important step in Israel’s advancement in the field of missiles and space, which has been planed for a long time,” he said. “The successful test is further evidence of the the highest level of engineers, technicians and members of the Israeli-defense industries.”
A Defense Ministry official declined to comment on the type of missile tested, but said in a statement that the launch was part of a test of a rocket-propulsion system.
Israel Radio said the projectile was a ballistic missile.
In 2008, a two-stage, longrange ballistic missile was successfully test-fired by Israel.
Iranian officials on Wednesday threatened to “punish” Israel and the US for any attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
“The United States is fully aware that a military attack by the Zionist regime on Iran will not only cause tremendous damage to that regime, but it will also inflict serious damage to the US,” said Maj.-Gen. Hassan Firuzabadi, chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.