Tag Archives: F-15I

The Israeli Air Force Has Just Released A Video Of A Pantsir-S1 Air Defense System Being Struck In Last Night’s Attack In Syria

Last night the Israeli Air Force attacked dozens of Quds force targets in Syrian territory. This video shows what seems to be a Delilah cruise missile hitting a Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 Greyhound) surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system. Warning: graphic footage.

“On May 9, 2018, the Quds force, a special force wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, stationed in Syria, shot 20 rockets towards IDF posts in the Golan Heights. The IDF intercepted four of the rockets, preventing casualties and damage. This is the first time that Iranian forces have directly fired at Israeli troops.

In response, in the night on May 10, IDF fighter jets (mainly F-16I Sufa aircraft according to most sources even though the official IAF website’s release on the attack shows also a file photo of an F-15I) struck several military targets in Syria that belonged to Iran’s Quds force. “The IDF’s wide-scale attack included Iranian intelligence sites, the Quds force logistics headquarters, an Iranian military compound in Syria, observation and military posts, et cetera. In spite of a warning from Israel, Syrian aerial defense forces fired towards the IAF aircraft as they conducted the strikes. In response, the IAF targeted several aerial interception systems (SA5, SA2, SA22, SA17) which belong to the Syrian Armed Forces. All of the IDF’s fighter jets returned to their bases safely.”

An illustration showing the targets hit by the IAF on May 10. (image credit: IDF)

Among the targets hit by the Israeli combat planes there is also a Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 according to the NATO designation) as shown in the following footage.

The Pantsir-S1 is a Russian-built advanced, self-propelled combined gun/missile system that is made mobile on 8×8 trucks. The transportable gun/SAM system includes up to 12 surface-to-air missiles arranged into two 6-tube groups on the turret, and a pair of 30mm cannon.

The SA-22 was destroyed from what, based on the type of aircraft reportedly involved in the air strikes, the range of the missile and similar footage available online, seems to be a Delilah missile (actually, there is someone that suggested the missile might have been a Spike NLOS, but the use of a standoff missile seems much more likely).

The Delilah missile on an F-16I Sufa (image: Wiki)

The Delilah is a cruise missile developed in Israel by Israel Military Industries (IMI), built to target moving and re-locatable targets with a CEP of 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) at a maximum range of 250 km.

The best description of the cruise missile comes from the IAF website:

In terms of its structure, the Delilah is almost identical to a typical air-to-ground missile. The front section includes the homing parts, which in the first models were televisional. Thus, the head of the missile includes an antenna for general guidance towards its target. The next section holds the various electronic parts including guidance systems and flight control. The part behind this holds the warhead and fuel supply. The final section is made up of a jet engine capable of producing 165 pounds of thrust and the control surfaces that turn the missile towards its target.

Examining the technical data alone raises the question of why the Delilah is considered such an important missile. After all, there are missiles capable of flying further and faster and carrying warheads many times larger which are available on the global weapons market. The answer lies in the fact that the Delilah is seen more as a “loitering missile” than a cruise missile.

In general typical air-to-ground missiles are launched in the general direction of their target. A navigational system (such as GPS) takes them to the spot where intelligence indicates that the target lies. If the missile is autonomous (“fire and forget”) then the plane that launched it can simply leave. The missile flies towards the target. When it identifies it, it strikes it with the help of its final guidance system. When the target is not where it is expected to be, the missile is simply written off. An example of this sort of weapon is the US Tomahawk missile, at least in its early models.

When a missile is fitted with an electro-optic guidance system, it broadcasts an image of what is in front of it, back to the aircraft that launched it.  The image from the homing device is shown on a special screen in the cockpit, usually facing the navigator’s chair in a two-seater aircraft. The navigator can send the missile instructions, and make small changes in its flight path. However, these changes can only take pace during a relatively short period of time, and are comparatively minor. From the moment that the missile begins its final approach, no changes can be made. The result is that although he has some control, the navigator is actually very limited. If a missile approaches a target, which at the last minute turns out to be moving, or the wrong target altogether, then the missile misses. Thus, there have been many events like the one in Yugoslavia in 1999 when an electro-optic bomb launched from a US combat airplane was launched at a bridge. Seconds before impact, a passenger train reached the bridge and all the navigator could do was watch in horror, knowing that many civilians would be killed. It is here that the Delilah’s unique ability enters the picture.

[…]

The Delilah’s operation is similar to what is described above; it, too, possesses a “Man in the Loop” mechanism, where the navigator controls the final direction of the missile. However, in the case of the Delilah there’s a key difference: as the missile makes the final approach, if the target has moved or if there’s a need to cancel the attack (for example, if civilians are spotted near the target), all the navigator needs to do is press a button in the cockpit which instructs the missile to abort its approach and return to linger. Thus, situations in which a missile is wasted on a target that has disappeared, or in which civilians are accidentally killed can be prevented. In the same way the use of a missile on a target that has already been destroyed can be prevented, saving valuable ammunition.

This is not the only value in the Delilah missile’s ability to linger. One can imagine a situation in which the target’s precise location is not known with any certainty, for example if it is a portable anti-aircraft launcher or land-land missile launcher. In this case the Delilah can be launched in the general direction of the target, based on intelligence reports. The missile would fly in the direction of the target, all the while surveying the territory with its homing equipment. The image appears in the cockpit, the Delilah serving effectively as a homing UAV. The Delilah patrols above the territory searching for its target.  The missile’s long range can be exchanged for a prolonged stay in the air above the target. When the navigator identifies the target, or what is thought to be the target, he instructs the missile to fly towards it. If he has identified it correctly then the missile is directed to attack it. If he has not found the target then the missile is instructed to abort its approach and return to searching.

The Delilah missile’s ability to both loiter and carry out repeated passes makes it the ideal weapon for attacking mobile sites like rocket launches. Everyone recalls the difficulty the US Air Force faced during the 1992 Gulf War when it attempted to locate and destroy the Iraqi “Al-Hussein” rocket launcher that was used to fire at Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Americans knew roughly where the rockets were being launched from but had difficulty locating the launchers themselves. As a result fighter planes were sent for long patrols over western Iraq every night. On many occasions the Americans identified the point where the missile was launched from, but by the time a counter-strike had been arranged the missile launcher had left the scene. It’s in these sorts of operational profile that the Delilah performs best, perhaps better than any other weapons system. In these cases the Delilah can be launched towards the area intelligence expects the missiles to be launched from. The Delilah will fly above the area and search for missile launchers. When a launcher is identified, it will be immediately struck by the missile. If it’s discovered that the target has not been identified correctly, for example if it’s a dummy launcher or another vehicle that looks like a launcher (such as a petrol tanker), the missile receives the instructions to end its approach and continue to search for the real target.

“The Delilah is a system that can strike very precisely at critical, sensitive points from a great distance”, explains Brigadier General (reserve) Arieh Mizrachi, who was once CEO of IMI.”If we want to attack a command bunker, for example, and we know where it is situated and exactly which window we need to hit then we can do it. We can always make another approach and place the missile exactly where we want it. The extreme precision of the missile makes it possible for us to paralyze the enemy by striking their critical point. For example, if we send the missile through a window of a division’s control center, then no one will be left to give orders, and we’ll have silenced the whole division. It’s important to understand that the target does not need to be a large command center. The ‘Delilah’ lets us strike at the brain of the enemy, even if it’s a small mobile target like a command armored personnel carrier. Similarly, we can strike at a ship’s command center without needing to sink the whole ship. This holds true for many other kinds of target like airports, logistics centers and so on. The moment we identify the critical point, the Delilah lets us hit it”.

[…]

“The training needed to operate the Delilah lasts a few months, and because of its complex capabilities, not everyone successfully completes it”, explains First Lieutenant A., an F-16D navigator in the “Scorpion” Squadron who is trained on the Delilah. “The training process is long, complex and challenging. You start with simple scenarios, hitting a large target in open space, and advance to small targets that are located in densely populated areas”.

“Despite the intense cooperation between the pilot and the navigator, the fact remains that the missile is operated from the navigator’s cockpit. In the first stage you launch the missile and it flies towards the target you’ve given it. Later in the flight, you take control of the missile and direct it wherever you want. If you need to, you can press a button and the missile will loiter. The role of the pilot is to tell me when I’ve reach the point where I need to tell the missile to fly, and I can no longer tell it to continue to loiter”.

“Even though you are not physically in the same place as the missile, and in fact are far away, the whole time you feel that you are part of it. The fact that you can fly the missile wherever you want, whilst you yourself fly to an area that is not under threat, gives you safety”.

Anyway, here’s the footage:

As said, the Delilah is a standoff weapon: it means the aircraft can use it while remaining at safe distance.

As a side note, according to our sources, a KC-707 tanker that supported the F-16I. Yesterday, more or less when the jets were attacking the targets in Syria, a KC-707 was operating in the southern part of Israel.

We can’t be sure the tanker was supporting the raid (the fact an Israeli aircraft could be tracked online during a combat mission is somehow surprising), still worth a mention.

New details of Israel’s 2007 attack on the Syrian Nuclear reactor emerge

An article appeared in the ‘New Yorker’ (written by David Makovsky, a Jewish American who has lived in Israel for many years although now living back in the US) has revealed several previously unknown facts about the IDF strike code named “Operation Orchard”. The facts have allegedly come from conversations Makovsky has had with a dozen or so high ranking Israeli officials.

According to Makovsky Israel suspected that Syria had stepped up its nuclear program during 2006, and the intelligence they held at that time pointed towards a building in northeast Syria in the Deir al-Zour region.

What they needed was damning evidence that this was the case. According to Makovsky on Mar. 7, 2007 Mossad agents broke into the Vienna home of the head of the Syrian atomic agency Ibrahim Othman. It’s thought that the agents hacked into Othman’s computer and copied three dozen photos from the hard drive: among them, color photos taken from within the facility.

Image credit: IAF

The images are thought to have shown images of North Korean workers which corroborated Israel’s suspicion that Pyongyang was building a plutonium reactor for the Syrians.

The following day Mossad director Meir Dagan met with the then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. During their meeting, Dagan presented the findings to Olmert and explained the PM that they needed to act quickly as there would be a risk of radioactive contamination of the Euphrates river should the site go “hot”.

Olmert left the meeting and discretely sought advice from top officials all of whom signed secrecy agreements.

On Apr. 18 Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: the Americans launched their own investigation but did not really have an apatite for another pre-emptive strike on a Muslim country.

Although CIA director Micheal Haydon did confirm that “Al Kibar was part of a nuclear weapons program” and that “we could conceive of no other alternative uses for the facility”  he said that there was no concrete evidence that the site was part of a weapons program.

President Bush had apparently called Olmert to say that there wasn’t enough evidence for an American pre-emptive attack based on Israeli intelligence.

Makovsky said that Israel couldn’t afford for the information to be leaked so the Syrians would place SAM sites near to the building, therefore Olmert asked Bush to keep the matter quiet. Olmert didn’t ask for a green light from Bush but didn’t get a red light therefore took it as a green light to go.

Sept. 1, 2007 saw the preparations complete. The White House was informed as well as British MI6 (whom it’s thought Mossad works very closely with) although timings were with held. Then, on Sept. 5, the Israeli cabinet voted on whether they should take action on the reactor: all voted yes other than one who abstained and it was then decided the attack would take place that night.

Just past midnight a four ship of F-16s and another four ship of F-15s (although other sources say it was more) took off from the Ramat David Airbase.

They flew along the Mediterranean coast before heading in land near to the Syrian Turkish border and at sometime between 12.40 and 12.53 the codeword ‘Arizona’ came across the secure channels indicating that the reactor had been destroyed.

Markovsky’s article has some convenient blanks but that can be forgiven due to the matter still being regarded as secret in Israel.

Some sources say that this attack was the first time the Suter airborne network system was used against Syrian radar systems from one of two ELINT aircraft.

A modified version would more than likely be used against Iran if an attack were to take place, along with much more advanced tech. Including malware injected by F-16s, as someone speculates.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: IAF

Photo: Israeli Air Force F-15I backseater self-portrait clearly shows advanced DASH helmet

Few months after releasing a cool self-portrait of an F-15I backseater during an inverted climb, the Israeli Air Force has just released another interesting picture.

The picture show an F-15I’s WSO (Weapon System Officer) as his plane breaks from a formation (whose remaining two elements are visible above the aircraft in foreground).

The photograph provides a close-up view of the DASH (Display And Sight Helmet) helmet and its shape.

As all the others HMDs (Helmet Mounted Displays) DASH helmets enable pilots to aim weapons against enemy aircraft merely by pointing their heads at the targets: aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc is in fact projected onto the visor so as to enable the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision.

As the famous JHMCS (Joint Helment Mounted Cueing System), the DASH is a normal Gentex helmet fitted with Israel’s Elbit Systems optics.

Image credit: Israeli Air Force

Analysis: This could be the airfield in Azerbaijan used by the Israeli Air Force to attack Iran

Even if it is not easy to identify the Azeri airbases the Israeli Air Force would use in case of attack on Iran I thought that it might be interesting to select the one that I would pick if I had to plan a complex strike operation.

I consider quite unlikely the possibility that the IAF will use one of the available airfields in Azerbaijan to launch the first strike for the political/diplomatic consequences as well as the risk that any weird activity spotted there would be a clear sign of an imminent strike. Furthermore, the first strike will involve the largest packages and the creation of a sort-of forward operating base from where first attack sorties could be launched would require a prior air bridge, much support personnel, weapons: something difficult, still not impossible, to hide.

Hence, I will select an airport that could be an used as an intermediate stopover on the return leg from the raid and to launch another strike thereafter; let’s consider it as divert field the Israeli fighters could use for refueling or to get technical assistance. In this case, they would not need much things over there: fuel, support personnel and some technical equipment needed to perform maintenance activities on the planes experiencing (minor) failures.

The same airport could be used to host KC-130s for aerial refueling, as well as Combat SAR assets, even though I would base the latter elsewhere, not far from the border and on an improvised airfield (no need for runway, aprons, taxiways, and so on).

I’ve checked all airports in Azerbaijan using Google Earth. Provided the Israeli were given the clearance to use the Azeri airspace and airports, any runway long enough, could be suitable in case of failure with the airbases equipped with arresting cables and safelands obviously preferred.

Some of the Azeri airports considered in the analysis (all screen dumps taken with Google Earth)

Baku Kala

Many reports have pointed to Baku Kala, near the capital, on the Caspian Sea, 330 miles from Tehran. The base hosts Azeri combat choppers and transport aircraft. Bringing cargo planes over there in anticipation of an air strike would disclose the imminent attack. Unlikely.

Baku Kala airbase

Lankaran

Lankaran, in the South, 34 km from the Iranian border, would be the “most obvious” airbase and for this reason any activity on the small runway would be immediately noticed. Unlikely.

Khankendi

Khankendi in the southwest part looks like abandoned. It is located far from any large town under the control of the de facto control of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, has a few aprons and a taxiway (seemingly in very bad conditions) and a runway about 2,000 mt in length. It was due to be opened to commercial traffic but the opening date of the airport was postponed. Provided the security of the air operations could be ensured in the disputed area (de jure recongnized as part of Azerbaijan) this is one of the airfields I’d consider for a special operations/CSAR force also because of the limited implications for Baku.

Another similar airport (with grass runway) is Tanrykulular in the north part of the country (a bit too far from Iran).

Khankendi

Dollyar

Dollyar airbase is among those I consider suitable, the farthest from Tehran (465 miles). However it is a functional airbase, with empty shelters (some of which destroyed…), taxiways, aprons. A lonely Mig-25 can be spotted using Google Earth. Although a bit distant from Iran, it is also quite isolated. The presence of a Mig makes it an active airbase where movements of planes would not be too suspicious. I think this is one of the likely “places”.

Dollyar

Aghstafa

Aghstafa has just a runway (in poor conditions), it’s far from Iran and relatively next to a village (and to the border with Georgia): I think this airport can be removed from the “list” of suitable airfields.

Gyanzdah

Gyanzdah seems to have the proper infrastructures but it is reported to be also a civilian airport opened to the general air traffic. Indeed the main apron has a mini-terminal: the arrival of foreign military cargos would not be unnoticed. I think it’s quite unlikely it would be considered as a suitable airfield.

Continua a leggere

Image: Israeli F-15 strike on Tehran on Day 1 of the war on Iran’s nuclear program

Update Mar. 8 19.00 GMT

The following drawing, exclusively prepared by Al Clark for The Aviationist, shows how an attack by a formation of F-15Is on a nuclear facility located in downtown Tehran might look like.

Obviously, it is only a fictional scene, however it is quite realistic for an eventual strike on the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, that is located not far from the Milad Tower, clearly visible on the background.

Someone might argue that the first and most of strikes would be launched at night. That is true, but it is quite likely that subsequent missions would be flown during daylight conditions too. Even the surroundings of the Nuclear Research Center are probably a bit different from those depicted, the payload could be different, tanks would be dropped, altitude should be higher and so on, but please take it just as an interesting artwork.

Please note that I’ve used the word “image” on the title because it is not a drawing, nor a rendering or a photo. It is a Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).

Image by Al Clark for The Aviationist