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Tuesday, May 11, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

New air refueling system gives Israel capacity
for strike on Iran

TEL AVIV — Israel has developed the advanced air refueling systems that could facilitate a strike on Iran.


The officials also said the development overcame several years of refusals by Washington to supply the systems required for the 1,000 kilometer flight from Israel to Iran.

Officials said the Israel Air Force has overseen the development and deployment of air refueling systems for its U.S.-origin fighter-jet fleet, Middle East Newsline reported.

"There is no doubt that the technological capabilities, which improved in recent years, have improved range and aerial refueling capabilities, and have brought about a massive improvement in the accuracy of ordnance and intelligence," Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said.

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In a May 10 address to the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Ya'alon, a former military chief of staff, said the Air Force was prepared for any war with Iran. He said Israel has also enhanced air strike capability against neighboring Syria, the leading ally of Iran in the Middle East.

"This capability can be used for a war on terror in Gaza, for a war in the face of rockets from Lebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army, and also for war on a peripheral state like Iran," Ya'alon said.

Ya'alon, responsible for strategic affairs in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not identify the Israeli air refueling systems. But he said the Air Force has acquired an enhanced capability to conduct long-range air strikes.

"There is no doubt, looking at the overall situation, that we are already in a military confrontation with Iran," Ya'alon said. "Iran is the main motivator of those attacking us."

Since 2007, officials said, Washington has refused to approve Israeli requests for air refueling systems, advanced sensors as well as bunker-busters. They said both the previous administration of President George W. Bush and the current one of President Barack Obama have denied military equipment that could be used in an Israeli strike on Teheran's nuclear program.

Officials said Israel was capable of developing most of the systems and weapons withheld by the United States. They said Israel has sought U.S. weapons largely because they could be purchased through American military aid.

In his address, Ya'alon said Israel was capable of paralyzing Iranian defenses. He suggested the prospect of an air strike on Iranian surface-to-air missile batteries as well as command and control centers.

"As far as I'm concerned, attack remains the best form of defense," Ya'alon said.

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