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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Israeli air force planning answer for missile war

TEL AVIV — The Israel Air Force has been preparing for massive missile strikes by Iran and Syria.

Officials said the air force has sought to enhance capabilities that would enable fighter-jets to take off and land during missile and rocket strikes from such countries as Iran, Lebanon and Syria.

They said the air force began the planning effort soon after the Hizbullah war in 2006, which paralyzed at least one major base.

"We believe that our air bases would be a key target in any war," an official said.

The air force has been testing material that would enable aircraft to take off from damaged runways. Officials said the military has procured an unidentified non-asphalt substance that could restore destroyed runways within minutes.

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"The tests were successful and would allow combat aircraft to take-off and land even under terrible conditions," the official said.

Officials said the air force has determined that Hizbullah and Hamas would coordinate in an effort to paralyze bases throughout the country. They said Hizbullah would target northern air bases and Hamas would fire extended-range rockets toward bases south of Tel Aviv as well as in the Negev desert.

Another Israeli option has been the procurement of a vertical takeoff variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, known as the F-35B. Under the option, the air force would procure about 10 such aircraft to ensure rapid response to any missile strike on the Jewish state.

Officials said Israel's F-15I fighter-jet would serve as the most important element in any counter-strike. The air force has acquired a system that enables the F-15I — the most powerful aircraft in the Israeli fleet -- to launch several precision-guided weapons simultaneously.

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