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Friday, May 25, 2007

Israel emptied its smart bomb arsenal in under
2 weeks during 2006 war

TEL AVIV The Israel Air Force is revising its policy on the use of munitions against insurgency and low-signature targets.

The study was meant to learn the lessons of the war against Hizbullah in mid-2006 when the air force conducted a reported 15,500 sorties and failed to destroy the Iranian-backed militia's short-range rocket arsenal, Middle East Newsline reported.

Within two weeks, the air force depleted its smart munitions and most of its general purpose bombs.

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"We were using smart weapons freely without any regard to our supplies," a senior officer said.

The air force study was meant to determine what weapons would be required for low-signature and conventional warfare targets. Officials said the air force would also seek to draft standards on collateral damage when battling insurgents in an urban area.

"If we had destroyed Hizbullah headquarters on the first day of the war, we would have killed the entire leadership," an official said. "Instead, we used munitions meant to reduce collateral damage. We were condemned anyway for attacking an urban area, and the leadership escaped to continue the war."

Officials said the air force has still not replenished its arsenal of air-to-ground weapons in wake of the war, which ended in August 2006. In April 2007, after a wait of eight months, the Bush administration approved the sale of 3,500 MK-84 general-purpose bombs to Israel.

The air force study was also meant to determine the optimal use of the Joint Direct Attack Munition, a smart bomb kit produced by Boeing. The 2006 war marked the first time Israeli F-15s and F-16 fighters deployed the JDAM in a combat role.

"There were lots of problems with JDAM and there were some major mishaps that by luck did not cause great damage," an official said. "This weapon requires lots of training and thought."

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