Archive for the ‘IAF’ category

Syria attacks Beit Jinn opposite IDF Hermon positions – reprisal for reported Israeli airstrike on Iranian base near Damascus

December 2, 2017

Syria attacks Beit Jinn opposite IDF Hermon positions – reprisal for reported Israeli airstrike on Iranian base near Damascus, DEBKAfile, December 2, 2017

Two significant military events were reported early Saturday, Dec. 2, by Arab and Russian sources – neither of them officially confirmed. The first was an Israeli airborne missile attack on the Syrian army’s 1st Division’s ammunition dump near Al-Kiswah 14km southwest of Damascus and 50km from the Golan. The target was identified as an Iranian military base which the BBC reported on Nov. 10 to be under construction in the Syrian military compound at Al-Kiswah. DEBKAfile’s military sources refuted the BBC report.

Other sources reported that the Israeli target early Saturday was a Hizballah position near the Syrian 1st Division’s 91st Brigade base in the same area. Syrian military sources and Arab social media released videos showing Syrian air defense intercepting some of the Israeli missiles while others hit the target. Some sources claimed they were launched from Lebanese air space. A short time later, the Syrian army announced that units of its 7th armored division and the 42nd brigade of its 4th division had just launched an offensive on the Beit Jinn pocket on Mount Hermon a little more than 4km away from IDF positions on the mount. A Druze village is located inside this enclave. The Syrian military statement omitted to mention the fact that Hizballah forces are spearheading this attack.

First Iranian fighter jets over Syria alongside Russian bombers

November 22, 2015

First Iranian fighter jets over Syria alongside Russian bombers, DEBKAfile, November 22, 2015


A series of videos apparently leaked by the Russian Defense Ministry reveal the presence of Iranian F-14 and MiG -29 fighters in Syrian skies for the first time. They were shown by “The Aviationist,” Italian magazine, escorting heavy Russian bombers, including the Tupolev TU-160, the heaviest, fastest and most destructive bomber ever built, on missions no more than 150 km from Israel’s northern border.

The ageing F-14s, built in the 1970s by American aviation giant Grumman, were originally sold to Iran when the Shah was in power and taken over by the reorganized Iranian air force after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Upgraded many times, the F-14s now feature state-of-the-art avionics, weapons and navigation systems, procured byTehran despite the strict UN embargo on their sale to the Islamic Republic.

Dozens of these upgraded warplanes, upgraded with intelligence-collection and tracking systems, have begun operating in Syrian air space near the Israeli border, under the pretense of escorting the Russian bombers. Iranian eyes in the sky are therefore studying the frontier area and gather valuable intelligence on Israel’s air defenses. Normally, if Iranian warplanes had turned up in Syrian air space, the Israeli Air Force would have fought them off and shot them down, but by flying alongside Russian bombers they are protecting themselves against Israeli action.


As DEBKAfile reported on Saturday, November 21, Russian air and missile attacks are systematically   destroying Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria, without consideration of civilian casualties. The Russian general staff is now gearing up to embark on an unprecedented assault on rebel and ISIS strongholds, a blitz involving hundreds of simultaneous sorties by warplanes and bombers, as well as cruise missile attacks from planes and warships in the Mediterranean and the Caspian Seas.

High-altitude surveillance planes as well as low-altitude drones, fitted with imaging and targeting systems that will send live video and images to the command center in Moscow, will provide an umbrella for the attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will personally manage the multilayered military coordination between Russia and Iran when he visits Tehran on Nov. 23, accompanied by top military officers.

The Regional Storm Hits Israel

November 5, 2015

The Regional Storm Hits Israel, Israel DefenseAmir Rapaport, November 5, 2015

bomb in SyriaAn aerial view of a bomb explosion in Syria (Photo: AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

1. High Tide/Low Tide. When the “Second Intifada” broke out in October 2000, IDF used to refer to the riots and terrorist attacks in the Judea and Samaria area, as well is inside the territory of the State of Israel as “High Tide/Low Tide”, as each wave of riots was followed by a period of relative quiet, and then a new trigger emerged, leading to a wave of renewed violence, and so on.

Eventually, the “High Tide/Low Tide” incidents assumed a pattern of a murderous terrorist offensive, which took the lives of more than a thousand Israelis through suicide attacks, until the Intifada finally subsided in 2004.

The wave of riots and terrorist attacks that erupted about 15 years later, in the fall of 2015, appears to be connected, in some way or another, to the state of instability that characterizes many areas throughout the Middle East. For the last few years, the lion’s share of the fighting takes place in Syria, where hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions more became refugees.

The major question that arose within the Israeli defense establishment in the fall of 2015 was whether this latest wave of terrorist attacks marks the outset of a “Third Intifada”. Although outwardly the Israeli interest is to announce “This is not a new Intifada,” in effect, there is talk about a “new situation” and no one knows how it will evolve.

Analyses performed within the defense establishment point to a number of reasons that suggest that this is a significant wave of terrorism which could turn out to be prolonged, as well as to reasons that justify the claim “This is not a new Intifada”.

One of the reasons that this wave of attacks is serious and could be prolonged is the religious motive: the Israeli media does not speak about it too often, but the Arab world is raging around rumors or reports that Israel actually intends to change the status quo on Temple Mount.

Even when one attempts to fish only “comfortable” data out of the statistics of the latest terrorist attacks, it is impossible to ignore the increase, by tens of percent, in the number of violent incidents throughout the Judea and Samaria area as well as within the “Green Line” during the last few weeks.

On the other hand, one significant difference between October 2015 and “Black October” (following the outbreak of the Second Intifada 15 years ago), is that the Israeli security forces are currently operating freely throughout the Judea and Samaria area. Consequently, entering the hospital in Nablus did not call for tactical support by tanks and aircraft. During the Second Intifada, on the other hand, it took the IDF and ISA quite a long time before they succeeded in regaining control over the centers of the Palestinian cities, pursuant to Operation Defensive Shield, and even then, the control achieved was only partial.

The recent events erupted despite the fact that IDF and ISA operate continuously against terrorist detachments. In each of the last few years, 2,000-3,000 Palestinian inhabitants were arrested. 80% of them were sentenced by the courts to prison terms of several months minimum.

It is still difficult to predict how the events will evolve over the next few months, but in any case, it seems that we have “a new security situation” on our hands.

2. Vladimir Putin. Many people regard the regional instability as the direct result of the American strategy of minimizing US involvement in the region, due to separatism processes and shifting the focus of world attention to Eastern Asia and the Pacific region (among other things, owing to the reduced dependence on Arab oil).

The party that stepped very effectively into the vacuum left by the USA was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who currently positions himself as the regional “Sheriff”.

No one can overestimate the importance of the moves made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who deployed military forces to Syria this fall and continues to position himself as the strong man of the Middle East who never abandons his allies, while the USA has “transmitted” that her allies cannot rely on US support (as the USA had abandoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011).

This fall, the Russians deployed to Syria fighter aircraft that attack targets of the rebels opposing the military of President Bashar al-Assad. These moves were carefully coordinated with Iran, which, for her part, deployed hundreds of troopers (who are currently helping Hezbollah withdraw some of its forces back to Lebanon).

The Russian-Iranian move may have been intended to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia that supports the rebels, as well as to raise the price of oil, which is important to the economies of both countries.

Complicated? Even if there is no connection between the moves in Syria and the energy market, there is a definite connection between the fighting in Syria and the war raging in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. A solution in Syria may project on the war over there, as in both regions Iran and Saudi Arabia support opposing sides, with the conflict between the Shi’ite and Sunni factions of Islam as the backdrop.

Behind the scenes of the latest developments in Syria there has always been a Russian plan to bring about the end of the civil war in Syria by dividing it into areas of influence, with about 30% of the territory, in the Tartus and Lattakia area, remaining under control of the Alawite community of the current President, Bashar al-Assad.

Russia is interested in the sea ports in this area, and much less in maintaining Assad in control over a part of the disintegrated country. The Russians will not yield to the American demand to remove Assad from power until they have guaranteed their important interests. The party expected to pay the price is Israel, which may find itself, within a few months, facing a de-facto Iranian and Hezbollah domination on the other side of the border with Syria on the Golan Heights.

This situation could evolve despite the fact that Israel and Russia coordinate some of their respective moves, as indicated by the trip made by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s to Moscow last September, accompanied by the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and Head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Hertzi Halevi, during which they met with “Sheriff” Putin.

3. Meanwhile, in the South. The good news come from the south, where Egypt under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is determined to defeat the forces of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State that operate throughout the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt, Israel and the USA cooperate closely in the context of this effort, owing to their shared interests.

El-Sisi regards Hamas in the Gaza Strip as an enemy, owing to the cooperation between Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is engaged in an on-going conflict with his regime.

Hamas itself is under tremendous pressure from different directions: from Egypt, which cuts off the underground tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with the Egyptian territory, as well as from al-Qaeda and elements identifying with the Islamic State, who urge the leaders of Hamas to renew the fighting against Israel and occasionally even launch a rocket into Israeli territory in order to motivate Israel (which regards Hamas as the party responsible for such launches) to attack Hamas.

The reality that emerged in the Gaza Strip is yet another example of the complexity in our region. Iran, encouraged by the signing of the nuclear agreement with the superpowers, has renewed its support for Hamas, both financially and militarily (despite the fact that Hamas identifies with the rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad in Syria and in Iran itself).

The positive bottom line is that Hamas, owing to its own considerations, does its best to maintain the ceasefire agreement reached with Israel following Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. That state of affairs remained in effect until the fall of 2015 but reality, as everyone knows only too well, is highly dynamic.

4. A Small Military. One of the most significant moves expected within IDF in November is the endorsement of the long-term plan for the coming five-year period, and the conversion thereof into an effective order for execution.

“Gideon” is the name of the new multi-year plan led by IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. The plan is intended to rely on the long-term budget allocated to the IDF according to the recommendations of the Locker Committee, and will come into effect in 2016, after five years during which IDF have operated without a long-term plan, as the previous plan had ended as far back as during the tenure of Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi as Chief of Staff. The Gideon plan is intended to convert the IDF into a technological, cyber-based military organization, possessing fast maneuvering elements equipped with accurate, lethal weapons and enhanced sea and air branches. Above everything else, the most substantial investment will be made in intelligence.

The greatest concern among quite a few elements within the defense establishment pertains to the size of the military, as the new plan calls for the demobilization of quite a few units. One of the principles of Israel’s national security concept since the days of David Ben-Gurion is the need to maintain a strong, substantial military force, based on hundreds of thousands of reservists. The principle is still valid, but in effect, the emphasis is placed on intelligence, air power and commando operations. The substantial ground army, along with its massive tank OrBat, is reduced dramatically – which is inconsistent with the aforesaid principle.

5. Defense Exports. Nearing the end of 2015, the Israel Ministry of Defense and the Israeli defense industries embarked upon a massive sales effort. Between October and December, they will take part in not less than five major defense exhibitions in the USA, South Korea, Japan, Colombia and Thailand.

Even if that effort proves successful, the statistics for 2015 will indicate that Israeli defense exports still follow the downward trend that began in 2014. At best, the defense exports for 2015 will amount to US$ 5 billion, as opposed to US$ 7 billion in 2013.

The main reason for this decrease is the end of the global campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several major deals that are still on the agenda, mainly in India, can still change the picture before the end of 2015 and lead to a positive trend in terms of the scope of exports. In any case, the contribution made by the defense exports, which amounts to billions of dollars, to the Israeli economy and to the Israeli security resilience is immense. The massive proceeds enable the Israeli defense industries to continue to invest funds in research in order to develop products at the cutting edge of technology.

What coordination? Russia and Israeli warplanes play cat and mouse over Syria

November 2, 2015

What coordination? Russia and Israeli warplanes play cat and mouse over Syria, DEBKAfile, November 2, 2015


Syrian media reported an Israeli air force attack Sunday, Nov. 1, after two sorties Friday night against Syrian army and Hizballah bases in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Lebanese border. The IDF declined to confirm or deny these reports. Syrian sources described a large number of Israeli airplanes as bombing a Hizballah unit based in the village of El Ain in northern Lebanon and the arms depot of the 155thBrigade of the Syrian army at Al-Katifa to the east.

The two targets are 70 km apart. So these air strikes must have targeted two key points along the Iranian arms supply route to Hizballah.

They also raise three important questions:

1. Did Israel’s Tel Aviv command center use the hotline to Russian headquarters to give Moscow prior warning of air strikes against Syrian and Hizballah targets, explaining that no harm was intended to the Russian military in Syria?

Hardly likely; the Russians would not be expected to tolerate Israeli bombardments so close to their own military enclave in Latakia province.

2.  Did Russian surveillance planes and stations detect the approach of Israel’s bombers and decide not to interfere?

After all, Israel has turned a blind eye to repeated Russian air strikes in the last few days against rebel positions in the southern Syrian town of Deraa and Quneitra opposite IDF Golan positions. The two cases suggest a gentlemen’s agreement between Russia and Israel to abstain from interfering with each other’s air operations over Syria, so long as there are no direct clashes between the two air forces. This could easily have happened when Russian planes bombed Quneitra.

So is Moscow giving Israel enough aerial leeway to strike Iranian, Syria and Hizballah targets so long as there is no interference in Russian operations?

That too is unlikely because it would amount to permission for the Israeli air force to operate inside the anti-access/area denial bubble which the Russian air force has imposed over Syria.

3.  Did the Israeli air force use electronic warfare measures to jam the tracking systems installed in Russian spy planes and air defense missile systems in Syria?

DEBKAfile’s military sources have this answer: Israel and Russia have been conducting a clandestine electronic contest for 33 years, since the memorable episode in 1982, when the Israeli air force destroyed in a single strike the entire Russian air defense missile system installed in Syria.

Since then, the Russians have worked hard to develop electronic warfare measures for gaining on the Israeli edge, without much success.

This was strikingly demonstrated in September 2007, when the Russian-made electronic tracking and warfare systems, which were the backbone of Syria air defense missile batteries, missed the Israeli warplanes as they came in to bomb the North Korean-built Iranian-Syrian plutonium reactor going up in northern Syria.

This lapse may have recurred in the case of the Israeli air sorties Saturday.

Reports: IAF targets Hezbollah assets in Syria

October 31, 2015

Reports: IAF targets Hezbollah assets in Syria, Times of Israel, October 31, 2015

Israeli jet fighterAn Israeli fighter jet takes off during a training sortie in February 2010. (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

The Lebanese and Syrian media said Saturday that Israel Air Force warplanes have attacked targets in Syria linked to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. Reports varied, however, on the exact targets and location of the strikes.

According to a report on the Lebanese Debate website, six IAF jets carried out the strike over the Qalamoun Mountains region of western Syria, and targeted weapons that were headed for Hezbollah, Channel 10 said.

Syrian opposition groups, for their part, claimed Israeli planes had attacked targets in the Damascus area, in two strikes in areas where Hezbollah and pro-Assad forces were centered.

Syrian media, however, said that Israeli warplanes hit several Hezbollah targets in southern Syria.

Israel’s defense establishment declined to comment on the reports of the strikes, which would be the first since Russia boosted its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Syrian and Iranian media reported Friday that Russia was carrying out air strikes against anti-Assad rebel forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border with Israel.

The Jewish state has reportedly carried out several strikes on Syrian arms convoys destined for Hezbollah, although it routinely refuses to confirm such operations. It has, however, warned that it will not permit the Lebanon-based group to obtain what it calls “game-changing” advanced weaponry.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that Israel and Russia have agreed on a mechanism to avoid military confrontations between the two countries in Syria.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is in the midst of a military operation in the war-torn country, ostensibly to fight Islamic State militants who have seized huge swathes of territory. Critics however, claim that Russian airstrikes are targeting not only the fundamentalist group, but also Western-backed opposition groups who are seeking Assad’s ouster.

“My goal was to prevent misunderstandings between IDF forces and Russian forces. We have established a mechanism to prevent such misunderstandings. This is very important for Israel’s security,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing from the Russian capital.

“Our conversation was dedicated to the complex security situation on the northern border,” the prime minister said. “I explained our policies in different ways to try to thwart the deadly weapons transfers from the Syrian army to Hezbollah — action actually undertaken under the supervision of Iran.”

Netanyahu said that he told Putin in “no uncertain terms” that Israel will not tolerate Tehran’s efforts to arm Israel’s enemies in the region, and that Jerusalem has taken and will continue to take action against any such attempts. “This is our right and also our duty. There were no objections to our rights and to what I said. On the contrary: there was readiness to make sure that whatever Russia’s intentions for Syria, Russia will not be a partner in extreme actions by Iran against us.”

Ahead of their meeting, as they made statements to the press, Netanyahu told Putin that Iran and Syria have been arming Hezbollah with advanced weapons, thousands of which are directed at Israeli cities. He also told his Russian host that Israel’s policy is to prevent these weapons transfers “and to prevent the creation of a terrorist front and attacks on us from the Golan Heights.”

In April, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also warned that Israel would not let Iran equip Hezbollah with advanced weapons — a day after an alleged Israeli airstrike hit weapons depots in Syria.

Although Ya’alon did not discuss the airstrike that reportedly hit surface-to-surface missile depots, he declared that Israel would not allow Iran to supply arms to the terror group, which has a strong military presence in Lebanon as well as in Syria, the two countries lying on Israel’s northern borders.

Israel Asks for Better Gas Mileage

June 25, 2015

Possible Revised F-35 Could Make It for Israel Easier to Attack Iran

By: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu Published: June 25th, 2015 Via Jewish Press

F-35 in trial run. Simply awesome. [Photo Credit: Screenshot]

(The engineers at Lockheed have done some pretty amazing stuff. I bet they deliver on this one. – LS)

Lockheed-Martin is studying an Israel request for a longer flight range that would make refueling easier.

The manufacturer of the F-35 stealth attack plane, which Israel might use to attack Iran, is examining an Israeli request to extend the flight range by 30 percent, Amir Rapaport of the Israel Defense website reported Thursday.

Approximately 1,000 miles (1,500 kilometers) separate Israel and Iran, and the current F-35 is designed to fly approximately the same distance without refueling.

The IDF has asked the range to be extended to 1,500 miles, according to Rapaport.

That still would require refueling before Israeli attack planes could return home, but a longer flight range would preclude refueling en route or having to use a base closer to Iran, such as Azerbaijan. A longer flight range also would widen the choices where Israeli pilots could land for refueling on their way home from a bombing mission.

Israel Defense noted that special versions of the F-15 and F-16 include additional fuel tanks, but that option is less practical for the F-35. Even adding fuel capacity by 30 percent would make the airplane larger, challenge engineers to retain the F-35’s stealth capabilities.

IAF teams reportedly are working with Lockheed-Martin in Texas before the first F-35s are due to arrive in Israel towards the end of 2016.

As in the previous planes, Israel has introduced several improvements for the stealth fighter.
Rapaport wrote that sources said:

Israel will significantly improve the aircraft as it once did with the F-15 and F-16.

The F-35 is considered by many Israeli defense officials to be its answer to Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon if an agreement between the P5+1 powers and Tehran does not halt the program.

Below: Video of F-35 in action.

Report: Israeli Jet Struck Weapons Depots in Libya

April 4, 2015

Report: Israeli Jet Struck Weapons Depots in Libya, Israel National News, Gil Ronen, April 4, 2015

img373532IAF F-16 IAF Website

Al Watan added that Egypt allowed the Israeli jet to pass through its airspace en route to southern Libya.


Arab news sources reported at week’s end that an unidentified jet believed to be Israeli destroyed warehouses in southern Libya that held weapons bought by Iran for Hamas.

According to the reports in Al Watan and other news outlets, the warehouses were completely destroyed. The weapons that were inside them had allegedly been purchased by Iran, by means of weapons dealers in Sudan and Chad, and were supposed to be smuggled to Hamas through Egypt, by means of the smuggling tunnels between Sinai ands Gaza.

The destruction of the weapons stores in southern Libya was carried out in coordination with the Egyptian security and intelligence apparatuses, the reports claimed.

Al Watan added that Egypt allowed the Israeli jet to pass through its airspace en route to southern Libya.