Intel is key to IAF's Katyusha hunt

The Apache Longbow helicopter hovers over the target and lets loose a salvo of missiles, destroying another Katyusha rocket launcher in southern Lebanon. The coordinates came from Military Intelligence, which stalks Lebanon utilizing a number of sensors, some electronic and ground-based and others from the air above. The above scenario, related to The Jerusalem Post by a high-ranking IDF officer, describes what the IAF has been busy doing over the past nine days: hunting for Katyusha rocket launchers. While Hizbullah is believed to possess more than 10,000 rockets - a difficult number to destroy - the IDF's strategy is to try to knock out the rocket launchers, without which the guerrilla group's missiles are worthless. "Intelligence is the key and it is hard to obtain," the officer told the Post on Thursday. "We are investing great efforts and resources in intelligence in an effort to find the targets." Since Operation Change of Direction, launched last week following the abduction of two reservists in a cross-border attack, more than 200 rocket launchers have been destroyed as well as dozens of weapons warehouses throughout southern Lebanon. Some of the launchers, he said, were hidden in bushes and underneath homes and trees. "It is very difficult to find the launchers," the officer said. The officer said that while the air force's F-16I fighter jets had made most of the raids in Lebanon, the Longbow, of which Israel has a squadron in a base in the South, was proving to be an invaluable asset. The attack helicopters, he said, were used to attack small targets in an effort to minimize collateral damage and to provide support for troops on the ground. Some of the helicopters' targets included radar stations and transmission stations for Hizbullah's Al-Manar television station. "The Longbow has unbelievable capabilities," the officer said, referring to its quick maneuvering abilities as well as a special radar system that allows the helicopter to transfer the coordinates of targets to other aircraft.