Although it didn’t get much attention, something quite unexpected happened in the last days: Israel has attacked Sudan.
This is what seems to emerge in the aftermath of a mysterious explosion that occurred in a arms factory in Khartoum on Oct. 24.
Sudan accused that the Yarmouk munitions factory in Sudan, believed to be supplying weapons to the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, was indeed attacked in Israeli Air Force’s last long-range raid against a nearby “dangerous terrorist state.”
Although it was neither confirmed nor denied by Tel Aviv, a raid in Sudan is highly plausible and technically easy for an air force that is quite used to surprise strike missions abroad, even when they foresee some foreign airspace violations.
Provided that it was really an IAF air strike (and not, for instance, a cruise missile attack), the operation was easier than the complex campaign needed to smash Iran’s nuclear program (possibly requiring a stopover along the way): most probably, no more than a few F-15I Ra’am or F-16I Sufa were used to struck the plant south of Sudan’s capital town.
Departing from Hatzerim or Ovda airbases with a low level mission profile, an Electronic Warfare escort to help passing undetected along the borders with Jordan and Egypt and reach the Red Sea, and an AEW (Airborne Early Warning) asset to detect any aerial threat, the aircraft had to rely on (buddy?) tankers to reach their target located some 1,800 km away from Negev.
Drones were probably used to provide ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) prior to the strike.
This is just a likely scenario, involving about 15 aircraft, including spares, CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) and support assets. A test for a possible strike on Iran and a message to some dangerous neighbor. Moreover, the Israeli Air Force is not only capable to launch such an operation, it has already successfully completed a few.
Image credit: IAF
Still, the attack on the Yarmouk factory would have been even easier if launched by drones. Small target, well inside an almost undefended airspace. A perfect “place” for an unmanned killer robot, capable to silently fly for 24 or more hours.
Speculation on: take a look at a map. Don’t you notice something interesting?
The largest U.S. drone base in the area is not that far. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti has already been used to launch drone air strikes in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.
Although a bit far fetched this theory would still be coherent with the fact that Israel has not officially confirmed the authorship of the raid: without doing anything they would get credit for a successful military operation with significant psychological side effects few weeks after suffering the offence of an airspace violation by a Hezbollah drone.
With no more information to go on I would bet (a small amount!) it was Israel. They have far more to gain from the strike than the US and, as the article says, it may, just may, put a little bit more pressure on Iran. You can imagine them thinking “They really do this sort of thing.”