Tag Archives: IAF

What kind of target did the Israeli Air Force really hit in Syria?

Twice between May 3 and 5, the Israeli Air Force conducted air strikes in Syria using Precision Guided Munitions.

The first raid hit a convoy believed to be moving Fateh-110 missiles destined to Hezbollah, whereas the second one hit several ground targets located near Damascus:  the Jamraya scientific research centre (the only one officially confirmed by the Syrian TV), some missile fuel storage depot as well as the 4th Brigade of the Republican Guard’s barracks.

After an open source imagery analysis of Al-Manar TV (a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah) The Aviationist’s contributor and military expert Giuliano Ranieri was able to locate the site of the attack near Jamraya research center.


Actually, it’s is still not clear whether the center, attacked in January, was hit again or not; still, the building complex targeted in the night between May 4 and 5 could have been be a research center’s back-up structure, used to continue scientific works.

jam MOD 1

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Images of the site seem to show that no penetrating weapons were employed nor ventilation systems, typical of underground bunkers can be seen, a sign that, quite likely, the target could have been a mysterious facility operating under cover rather than a military installation.

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“It’s hard to understand what the facilities was: just dead hens and collapsed walls can be seen in the photos published by the media outlets…” Ranieri explains.

Regardless of what the facility might have hidden, the attack seem to have been accurate and quite far from populated areas.

Mideast Syria Israel

Another sortie was made against a munition depot near Al-Dimaas, 15 km from Jamraya.


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Examining Israeli Air Force Weaponeering in the Damascus Strike

For the second time in three days, strike aircraft of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport.  The targets are alleged to have been shipments of Syrian ballistic missiles bound for Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.  U.S. Intelligence sources and open-source reporting have claimed that Israeli jets struck these weapons caches during the first raid without penetrating Syrian airspace.

If it is true that Israeli fighters remained over Lebanon during the strike, it raises interesting questions regarding the choice of weapons used in the raid.  The distance from the Lebanese border to Damascus prevents the use of JDAM series weapons or Paveway series Laser Guided Bombs.  However, by examining the IAF order of battle, it can be inferred that the Israelis likely utilized the Rafael Popeye standoff missile to strike these targets.

The IAF currently utilizes three weapons that possess the range and precision targeting capabilities necessary for the Damascus raid.  The Popeye, with a reported 48 nm range, could easily be launched from inside Lebanese airspace and fly the approximately 30 nm to strike Damascus.  Additionally, the end-game EO/IR targeting and large 750 lb warhead makes the weapon a logical choice.

It is unlikely, but possible, that the Israelis used the Delilah air to surface missile.  Delilah was originally conceived as a low-speed, loitering weapon that could strike moving targets and be reprogrammed after launch.  The loiter capability of the weapon makes it ideal for attacking surface to air (SAM) sites or radars as well as high value mobile targets such as ballistic missiles.  However, the small 66 lb warhead is a poor choice for a large target such as a warehouse.

It is also possible that the Israelis used the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.  The folding wings of the glide weapon give the requisite range.  However, the small warhead makes the weapon a less attractive choice, unless a large number of the weapons were used.  The GBU-39 uses a JDAM style GPS guidance system and is believed to only have been integrated on the F-15I strike fighter.

Michael Glynn for TheAviationist.com

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Watch the drama unfolding: Israeli Air Force F-15D hits a pelican flock on take off

Although the video it’s not new (it was released shortly after the episode took place) the Israeli Defense Forces have recently released more detail about it.

In October 2011, an Israeli Air Force F-15D fighter jet with an experienced pilot and navigator on board, taking off from Tel Nof airbase in central Israel, suffered a series of birdstrikes with a flock of pelicans.

Both engines caught fire but the pilot was able to return to the airport, land safely and catch the arresting wire on the runway with the plane’s tailhook.

As the aircraft came to a stop, the aircrew jumped out before the plane went up in flames.

The entire scene was filmed from the onboard camera and from the camera of the wingman.

The subsequent investigation found that (excerpt from the IDF blog):

  • A helicopter flew in the area of the flock minutes before the F-15, but it was lower than the flock and did not notice them.
  • An ecologist in the control tower checked the bird radar, but was given an incorrect altitude reading. Though the ecologist expressed concern, the takeoff was authorized.
  • One of the control tower personnel guessed that the radar was showing traffic on the highway seen below. Control tower personnel used binoculars to check for a flock of birds, but could not see one.
  • Bird watchers in the field were late with their reports.
  • The fire from the left engine disabled the sensors in the right engine, which is why the pilot received indications that his right engine was on fire.

An incident is always caused by a series of contributing factors….

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The Israeli Air Force practices to prevent a 9/11 type attack

The Israeli Defence Force website reported that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has performed a series of exercises designed to simulate aerial attacks on Israeli territory.

Although the news was released on Sept. 11, the exercises, that took place shortly before the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, were aimed to prepare for similar terrorist attacks on Israel. Since the IAF continues to train for any eventuality, combat squadrons of the IAF spent a week training to handle several different scenarios in which aircraft threatened Israeli skies.

First Lt. Ronen, instruction officer of the Defenders of the South Squadron, whom are responsible for the squadron’s training, said “We are flying in scenarios that we face routinely, but through them we are practicing identifying civilian or enemy aircraft that are invading our aerial territory and threatening Israeli skies.”

Ronen added “During this exercise, the pilots face a civilian aircraft that does not respond in the communication device, a hostile UAV collecting intelligence, and a helicopter landing forces in our territory” he went on to add further “They need to know how to handle these kinds of situations.”

The training activity was supported by other units whose planes played the aggressors role or “Red Formations”; one of the IAF Boeing 707s simulated a hijacked civilian airliner.

Actually, other air forces train for such “renegade” scenarios as well.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: IAF

Israeli F-15I to be equipped with removable probe for buddy air-to-air refueling in case of attack on Iran?

Even though nobody knows if an attack on Iranian nuclear program will ever be launched by the Israeli Air Force almost all analysts concur that, whathever its size, the strike force will be made of a certain amount of F-15Is, the Israeli version of the U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle.

Like all the other assets involved in the extremely difficult strike, the IAF F-15s would face serious fuel problems on such a long journey, requiring the support of several tankers; a tanker force whose presence has become paramount for the successful outcome of modern air campaigns (as shown by the Libya Air War).

Above images by Alessandro Borsetti

As the American Strike Eagles, the Israeli F-15Is can be refueled by tankers equipped with a flying boom, using a boom receptacle embedded in the left wing root.

This means that, on the way to their targets, they will have to be refueled several times by either Israeli B-707s or American tankers (U.S. KC-135 and KC-10).

Although the IAF is believed to have 8 B707 still airworthy, someone believes that other planes were reconfigured to serve as tankers in case of a strike. But, at the refueling altitudes this kind of aircraft operates (much lower than the 50,000 feet someone affirmed!), they would be vulnerable to air defenses and, above all, visibile from many miles away announcing the incoming strike with a certain advance.

That’s why the possibility that the F-15I would not only by used as bombers but also as buddy tankers (e.g. to refuel other F-15s in a similar way Tornados or Super Hornets do) is quite likely, even if it would imply the use of an IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe to be used to take fuel from a hose and drogue system in place of the boom/receptacle system.

In the past, the Israeli Air Force modified its F-4s with a cheap probe much easy to mount and quite effective. A similar kit could be also developed for the Israeli F-15I, in anticipation of a long range strike, as someone speculates. Even if the fuel transfer rate of the fixed boom is higher than the one of a hose and drogue system, and the kit would reduce the aircraft’s top speed, the use of an IFR on the F-15I could give the possibility to the Israeli planners to embed some tankers within the strike package thus reducing the “attack footprint”.

According to a CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) document issued in 2009, studies have already taken place regarding buddy refueling between F-15Es that can be packaged in  an external tank or CFT (Conformal Fuel Tanks). I’ve not found anything to confirm this report, but a similar system has been developed for the UAE AF F-16.

However, if Israel has developed such kit it’s quite unlikely that we will be able to see it: it would be the proof that they are about to launch a deep strike.

In the above rendering by Al Clark, an Israeli F-15I refuels from a US KC-10 over the desert on its way to the target. Al Clark has also drawn a fictional, scene involving an F-117. If you want to see it click here.