The French magazine L’Express today reports that Israeli jets practiced a long-distance strike against Iranian nuclear targets over Gibraltar. If accurate, the report means the Israelis rehearsed a strike some 2,600 miles from home — a distance sufficient to simulate a strike on Iranian territory.
The report in L’Express is the latest to suggest that the Israeli air force (IAF) has decided to be ready to launch a mission at a moment’s notice should Israel’s political leaders give the go-ahead.
Israeli strategists believe that the leaking of such Israeli preparations serve as an important element of deterrence regardless of whether or not Israel has actually decided to strike if it determines that a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program has become impossible.
Also today, the Jerusalem Post reveals that Israeli air force reservists who operate the Arrow and Patriot missile-defense systems have recently begun spending one day a week on duty to sharpen their skills, amid fears that in a conflict with Iran, dozens of long-range missiles would be fired at Israel.
Later this year, the IAF will hold an unprecedented and massive exercise with the U.S. military to jointly test three different ballistic missile defense systems, including the Israeli-made Arrow and the American THAAD and Aegis, which will be brought specially to Israel for the exercise.
The high-powered American X-Band radar, deployed in the Negev Desert in late 2008 (see item 3 here) as a farewell gift from former President George W. Bush, participated in the recent Arrow test and tracked the incoming target.