An Israeli raid on Iran, with American Weapons

Ehud Eilam presents a scenario in with the IAF attacks Iran's nuclear infrastructure, using American B-52 Stratofortress bombers and MOP bombs

A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber, shown during a test flight on May 28, 1955

Iran and major powers gave themselves until Monday to reach a nuclear agreement, their third extension in two weeks.  If the talks end without an agreement regarding Iran's nuclear program, or if Iran breaches it in the future and tries to produce nuclear weapon, the United States should consider attacking Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. In case the United States does not go through with that, Israel should be allowed, officially or not, to accomplish this task. 

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has been preparing and training for more than a decade to attack Iran. The Israeli task force would include various aircraft, for command and control, air refueling and mostly fighter-bombers: F-15I and F-16I.

The IAF has bunker buster bombs such as the GBU-28, and it might receive the 700 BLU-109. However, those bombs might not be able to penetrate Iran’s highly protected nuclear sites such as the one in Fordo. For this mission, the IAF requires the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a massive American bomb. On 3 April 2015, the Pentagon announced it had upgraded the MOP – information that was shared with Israel. The latter should independently get the bomb. Michael Crowley analyzed the performance of that bomb in his article “Plan B for Iran”.

Furthermore, Israel’s fighter-bombers aircraft are too small to carry the MOP. The United States could give its Israeli ally the B-52 Stratofortress bombers, capable of carrying up to 32,000 kg of weapons. David Deptula and Michael Makovsky examined how MOPs and B-52s could be delivered to Israel, in their article “Sending a bunker baster message to Iran”.

Israeli air and ground crews should be sent now to the United States, to study how to operate both the MOP bomb and the B-52 bomber. The IAF does not possess heavy bombers like the B-52. The last time the IAF had similar weapon systems was in the 1950s, when it used a handful of B-17 bombers.

Since then the IAF was based on fighter-bombers, first French ones and then American. Actually, since the late 1960s the IAF has been relying on American weapon systems. Therefore the IAF has quite an experience with US arsenal, procedures etc., which would help its crews to assimilate the B-52.

The Israeli personal would learn the B-52 as fast as they can. A special crash course should be created for them so they could return to Israel, with the B-52, as early as possible. This process might last up to a year, but it might end much sooner.

In the early 1980s, the IAF received its first F-16 and almost immediately used them in combat, to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor in June 1981. The IAF might repeat this pattern and launch the B-52, after they would arrive to Israel, to wipe out Iran’s nuclear sites. The IAF would attack key bases of the Iranian air defense layout, in order to clear the way for the B-52. The IAF would destroy Iranian radars and/or jam them with electronic and cyber warfare.

If and when Iran rehabilitates its nuclear infrastructure after an Israeli strike, the B-52 might strike those targets again. Israel implemented this strategy against Arab states over the years, when other kinds of threats were on the table.

Overall, an Israeli deployment of the B-52 with MOP bombs might deter Iran from producing nuclear weapons to begin with. Either way, Israel could be sure it has a reliable military option if Iran tries to build the nuclear bomb.

 

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Photo: AP

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