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August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Air Force’

Israel Strikes Back

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck back at Lebanon, hitting a terrorist target near Beirut, Lebanon early Friday morning.

The IAF said all targets were hit, and the pilots returned home safely. There is no information on damage or casulties on the part of the enemy.

The strike was in response to the four rockets launched at Israel yesterday.

The Israeli government said it is holding the Lebanese government responsible, though Lebanese president denied involvment in the attack, and is reported to have said that the rocket attacks were a violation of the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

Fighter Jets…

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Every once in a while, we hear fighter jets flying over head. The first time I came to Maale Adumim – over ten years ago, I heard the jets soaring over the city and thought – wow, not just the beauty of the desert, not just the beauty of the city, but this too? I love the sound of the F15s flying low.

It was only after I moved here that I realized this wasn’t a daily occurrence. The Israeli Air Force is charged with protecting our skies. To do this, they have to fly the length and width of this land (which actually doesn’t take to long).

So they don’t fly regularly over our skies…or maybe they do. I remember friends who had just moved hear hearing them fly low over head. They called me thinking that perhaps war had broken out…

No, no war – just our sons flying our skies and protecting our land!

I once tried with my silly phone to capture it. I got the sound, but couldn’t get the image and then I thought…duh…YouTube. This morning, the jets have been flying and, child that I am inside, I keep going to my balcony and watching them.

There is such joy in seeing them, hearing them. They fly for the purest of causes – defending our land. It’s a beautiful day in August in Israel. I hope as they fly, the pilots are smiling and enjoying the most amazing view (as I am).

May God bless the Israel Air Force – fly safe! – 2 videos – one the sound I am hearing this morning and the second – an amazing, nearly impossible feat…an Israeli pilot – landing with just one wing. The manufacturers of the F15 didn’t believe the Israelis when it was reported. They insisted on seeing the plane for themselves. The proof is in the video. Enjoy.



Hundreds of US Air Force Officials in Israel for Joint Drill

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Hundreds of US Air Force personnel have arrived to Israel for the purpose of participating in the joint “Juniper Stallion 13″ exercise, one of the largest exercises held together by Israel and the US.

Dozens of US Air Force and IAF squadrons are presently located at the IDF Nevatim Airbase ahead of the exercise, which begins on Monday and will continue over the course of the week. Juniper Stallion will see F-15 and F-16 fighters carry out numerous air-to-air exercises. According to IDF sources, Juniper Stallion is part of a series of annual exercises that will be carried out by the two countries.

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who welcomed US forces arriving for the exercise in Israel, stated that “Juniper Stallion 13 is a bilateral exercise intended to improve the cooperation between our two air forces”. Ambassador Shapiro added that the exercise represented “another chapter in the unprecedented security partnership between the US and Israel.”

IAF Class Graduates, Including Fighter Pilot who had Tourette’s

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

On Thursday, the latest class of 166 IAF (Israel Air Force) pilots will be graduating. Unlike previous classes, there will be no women graduating in this round.

54% of the graduates are from cities, 35% are from small towns, and 10% are from farm communities (moshavim).

35% are from the north (Tzefat being the farthest north), 61% in the center, and 3% from the south.

All the pilots had completed all the Bagrut (matriculation) exams, except one who completed his Bagrut tests during training.

Almost half the class did not immediately go to pilot school after completing High School.

Four of the pilots volunteered for a year of community service before joining the course. Five went to a military preparatory school for a year. Three spent a year in Hesder. And four others tried out different positions in the IAF first.

For 9% of the graduates, it was their second time taking the course before they graduated.

32% are the oldest child, 35% the middle child, and 29% the youngest. Only 3% were only children.

Ynet reports that one student (22) overcome some very difficult personal trials to become a pilot.

As a child, R. suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, including tics,outbursts, angry behavior, as well as hyperactivity and allergies.

Through a diet regiment and medication he overcame Tourette’s at age 13, and subsequently passed the army medical exam which determined he was healthy and qualified to be a pilot.
R. father told YNet, “The lesson is that you should never pass unquestioned what the medical establishment tells you. There’s a solution and it lies in correct nutrition.”

State of Unreadiness

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

My colleague Timothy Whiteman at Liberty Unyielding highlighted recently the number of Air Force squadrons that will have to cease training later this year because the Air Force doesn’t have funds for the flying hours.  This is real, and it is astounding.  It will mean that, at a certain point in the near future, as early as this fall, if no additional funds become available, the cost of mounting an operation big enough to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons-related installations is likely to be too high.

This is because there will be no force depth to either sustain follow-on operations or overcome the geographic constraints U.S. forces are increasingly likely to face.  Assuming all of the Air Force’s stand-downs and readiness-losses do occur, the available front-line forces would be maxed out with a moderately scoped strike package.  To meet the task, they would require the most favorable basing options that could be available in the Persian Gulf under today’s conditions – but which may not be available.  If we don’t have those favorable basing options and the Air Force squadron groundings remain on track, the Iran strike goes from all-but-under-resourced to impossible.

There will not, after all, be two aircraft carriers on station near Iran, with their combined eight squadrons of Navy strike-fighters (more on that below).  It will in theory be possible to deploy a second carrier, but doing so is pretty much certain to require more money from Congress.  (Doing so would also enlarge and accelerate the readiness snowball for the Navy’s carrier force, a snowball that will inevitably become an avalanche of carrier unreadiness in the next three years, if world problems require unplanned operations during this period.)

The Air Force will have to carry the load of a strike on Iran, if there is to be one in the foreseeable future.  The Air Force’s forward-deployed squadrons will continue to train and conduct operational flights.  The B-2s and some of the B-52s, which can deploy immediately and/or operate globally from their bases stateside, will remain combat ready.  But the strike-fighter squadrons at their home bases in the States, which would be called on if a major operation had to be ordered, will be in an impaired state of readiness.  The aircrews will fall out of combat qualification when they haven’t been able to get their training hours in (and some aircraft maintenance will be deferred as well).  If the president wanted to order a new operation, beyond our current military commitments, it is not clear what would happen.

Geography rules

This is a good time to briefly review the features of the hole we are backing into, with respect to an Iran strike.  (I wrote more about some of them in February).  The features of this hole can be grouped geographically and in terms of military resources.

Geographically, the potential axes of approach to Iran for a nuclear-facilities strike have been whittled down significantly, through political attrition and strategic disuse.  Five years ago, U.S. forces might have approached from multiple axes, including possibilities like operating intelligence or refueling aircraft out of Turkey, or inserting special forces from Iraq.  These were at least political possibilities at that time; today, they fall between unlikely and not happening.

Moreover, it is no longer guaranteed that we would be able to launch the Air Force’s strike-fighter aircraft from Qatar or Kuwait, still less from a base in UAE or Oman.  We don’t normally operate Air Force aircraft from Bahrain, but even Bahrain – long our closest partner in the Gulf – may not be a fallback option.  Iraq will not be an option at all, and Afghanistan would object to being used as a base for launching attacks on Iran.  The same can be said of Pakistan.

If the Air Force has to launch most of the aircraft for this operation, we have a serious problem.  B-2s and B-52s launch from elsewhere, of course, but for certain types of bombing, they will require fighter escort protection while over Iran.  Refueling tankers orbiting over the Gulf will require fighter protection as well, as will the EA-3 Sentry airborne command and control platform.

We may or may not have the use of other nations’ air space to approach Iran (e.g., Kuwait’s, Jordan’s, Saudi Arabia’s, or Oman’s); if we don’t, there will be one way in and out of the Persian Gulf air space through which manned bombers will have to transit.  That in itself is a significant vulnerability.  Geographically, there is a real possibility that the U.S. would be limited to bringing aircraft in through the air space over the Strait of Hormuz.  If there is nowhere local for aircraft to recover – e.g., Oman – that limitation would effectively knock the Air Force strike-fighters out of a small operation.

Dead in the Water: Obama’s Military and Iran

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Two to three years ago, the United States Department of Defense had enough military forces on station in, or readily deployable to, the Persian Gulf region (the “CENTCOM AOR” – area of responsibility – or Southwest Asia, as it is called in the military) to execute a limited strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities without asking Congress for special funding.  The military could have performed such an operation “out of hide,” as quickly and seamlessly as the president wanted it to.

Four to five years ago, moreover, the U.S. had the regional political capital to use our bases in the local nations (e.g., Qatar and Bahrain) to launch and direct such a strike campaign.

Both of these conditions have now changed.  I wrote about the political shift in December of 2010, after the Persian Gulf nations executed a flurry of bilateral defense agreements with Iran, and Bahrain, in particular, announced that the U.S. would not be able to use Bahraini territory for launching military operations against Iran.  Even a subtle shift in these nations’ postures means that the U.S. will have less discretion in what we propose to do against Iran.  U.S. military actions that are so limited as to leave Iran able to retaliate against her neighbors may not be acceptable to our hosts.

Mounting a limited strike campaign using only U.S. Navy assets and the Air Force’s global strike bombers (which don’t need the Persian Gulf bases) has remained a fall-back option.  But as of 2013, with the funding issues inherent in the long-term budget stand-off, that option can no longer be performed out of hide.  The Navy has already had to cancel a carrier strike group deployment that it couldn’t project being able to pay for, and we can no longer assume that the Air Force will have the ready aircraft and aircrew – not to mention the fuel – to perform a bomber campaign against Iran.

The central reason is that the military doesn’t know whether or when it will get more operating funds.  There isn’t a federal budget, and the recurring fiscal showdowns between Obama and the House Republicans make all future military funding a big question mark.  There is no end-point beyond which the military knows how much money it will have.  This isn’t a question of pinching pennies for a while until the money kicks in on a date certain.  The Department of Defense doesn’t know what its future operating picture will be, beyond the next couple of months.

In the worst case, the sequestration cuts kick in on a month-to-month basis, as the fiscal stand-off between Congress and the president drags on.  In early February, in anticipation of having to “operate down” to this worst case, the Navy cancelled the scheduled deployment of the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) strike group, which was to be the second of two carrier strike groups hitherto maintained on station in the CENTCOM AOR.  Secretary Leon Panetta announced at the time that the U.S. would cut its CENTCOM-deployed carrier force to one.

A strike group brings not just the carrier and its air wing but an Aegis cruiser and/or Aegis destroyers, all with Tomahawk missile load-outs.  In multiple ways, U.S. combat power has now been cut in half in the CENTCOM AOR due to the long-running fiscal stand-off.  The level of carrier presence is insufficient today to execute a limited-strike campaign against Iran while containing the potential backlash.

Note that the Truman deployment, even if it had gone on as scheduled, would have left a gap of more than two months in the two-carrier presence in CENTCOM.  There has been one carrier strike group in CENTCOM, that of USS John C Stennis (CVN-74), since USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69) left the AOR in late November (returning to Norfolk, VA in December).  A gap isn’t unprecedented, in the years since the two-carrier presence was factored into carrier scheduling (although gaps are typically much shorter).  But now an actual degradation in our force posture has been announced.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is scrambling to scope out the impact of the sequestration cuts on its operations.  Big Blue foresees having to cut flying hours for the rest of the year by a third and cancel some scheduled squadron deployments overseas, both of which measures will, within months, affect force posture and readiness in CENTCOM.  So will the impending decision to further defer depot-level maintenance on overdue aircraft.  Some squadrons in the U.S. would run out of flying-hour funds by mid-May 2013, with no prospect of a new infusion of funds.  If additional squadrons were to be forward deployed to CENTCOM for a strike on Iran – and the fuel for such a massive operation set aside – much of the Air Force would have to stop flying altogether until more funds were provided.

PM, IDF Chief Clash Over Next Air Force Commander

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz are reported to be locked in a disagreement over the appointment of the next air force commander, with some suggesting a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities as the source of the divide.
As the term of Gen. Ido Nechushtan winds down, two men are seen as the top candidates to replace him: Gen. Yochanan Locker, currently the military adviser to the prime minister; and Gen. Amir Eshel, currently the IDF’s chief of planning. One difference between the two, according to the reports, is that Locker is believed to support Israeli air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities while Eshel does not support such action.
Netanyahu, who has made preventing Iran from obtaining or building its own nuclear weapons a key element of his policy, is said to be aggressively campaigning on behalf of Locker.
Gantz, on the other hand, is strongly opposed to the notion of anyone but him deciding on the appointment. Gantz told the Knesset on Sunday that the appointment of the air force commander was no different than any other appointment in the army, over which the chief of staff is meant to have the final word.
The clash over this appointment has wide-ranging repercussions, not only for a possible future engagement with Iran, but for the Israel Defense Forces as a whole, because changes at the top of several major departments take place all at once, and candidates for one position are often also candidates for others as well. As long as the air force command is unsettled, the race for several other senior posts will also remain unresolved.
Senior military appointments have been mired in controversy more than once in recent history.
Last year, Gantz was named chief of staff last despite Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s staunch support for Gantz’s rival, Gen. Yoav Galant. Documents that showed an ugly smear campaign by Galant, against Gantz, blew up the appointment. They were soon discovered to have been fakes – further embroiling the appointment in controversy – but Galant’s candidacy officially ended when another scandal, over a minor dispute concerning the general’s land holdings, forced him to retire.
In 2005, defense minister Shaul Mofaz decided not to extend the appointment of chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon because the lieutenant-general opposed the plan of prime minister Ariel Sharon to permanently remove troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. Ya’alon’s successor, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, oversaw the disengagement a few months later.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/pm-idf-chief-clash-over-next-air-force-commander/2012/01/23/

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