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Large Israeli Air Force drill simulates strike on Iran’s nuclear sites

PM Bennett inspects Israel’s cutting-edge Iron Beam Laser System currently undergoing testing

Illustrative - Two Israeli and one American F-16 fighter jets in a joint exercise in southern Israel, Jan. 2022. (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

In a display of considerable military power, hundreds of Israel Air Force planes simulated strikes on distant enemy targets such as Iran’s controversial nuclear sites.

The drill included various fighter jets and refuelling aircraft needed for such a complex potential military operation far from the Jewish state’s borders. The massive aerial exercise constitutes a part of the Israel Defense Forces’ month-long drill, Chariots of Fire, which is the largest military exercise in the Jewish state’s history and involves most units of the Israeli army. 

Israeli Channel 13 News reported earlier that the U.S. Air Force was expected to participate by refuelling planes in the massive Israeli aerial drill. However, the U.S. Central Command denied any American participation, stressing that “there is no direct US military involvement in that exercise.”

The unconfirmed reports of the alleged American participation were also denied by a Pentagon spokesperson, according to The War Zone online magazine. 

On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz inspected Israeli forces in Cyprus simulating a war with Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. Gantz thanked the Cypriot hosts but simultaneously warned Israel’s enemies. 

“The IDF is constantly preparing for operations and various campaigns, in various theatres, and will inflict a severe blow on anyone who seeks to threaten the citizens of the State of Israel,” said Gantz. 

In recent months, Israel has invested massive resources in upgrading its aerial strike capabilities to develop a credible military response should international diplomacy fail to stop Iran in its race toward acquiring nuclear weapons. In October 2021, Israel reportedly approved a massive $1.5 billion budget, earmarked for preparing a potential military strike on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. If an Israeli prime minister eventually orders a military strike against Iran, Israel’s new F-35 fighter jets are expected to play a prominent role in such a complex military operation.

In March, the Israel Air Force received three additional F-35 jets from the United States. The Jewish state currently has 33 F-35 jets and its growing fleet is expected to reach 50 by 2024. In addition, the Israel Air Force also has some 175 F-16 fighter jets and around 80 F-15 jets. 

To date, Israel is the only country in the world to have ever targeted and successfully neutralized nuclear reactors belonging to enemy states. The Jewish state successfully destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. However, a potential strike on Iran is widely considered far more complex, mainly due to the vast distance to the targets and the fact that the Iranians have dispersed their nuclear assets, partly underground, across a vast territory. 

In an exclusive interview with ALL ISRAEL NEWS, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who ordered the Syria strike in 2007, told Editor-in-Chief Joel C. Rosenberg that he does not support a unilateral Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and prefers coordination with Washington. 

Iran’s ayatollah regime has repeatedly threatened to wipe the Jewish state off the map. Israel, therefore, views Iranian nuclear bombs as an existential and unacceptable threat. 

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett inspected Israel’s newly developed cutting-edge Iron Beam Laser System which is currently being tested by Israeli defense company, Rafael. The Iron Beam is considered the world’s first energy-based defensive weapons system with a laser capable of shooting down incoming rockets and UAVs at a cost of merely $3.50 per shot. By comparison, each missile fired by Israel’s advanced Iron Dome aerial defense system costs tens of thousands of dollars. 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett inspects the new Iron Beam Laser System (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

"Rafael's laser system is a strategic game changer for the State of Israel and the world as well, a system that already today knows how to shoot down mortar rounds, UAVs and rockets,” Bennett said.

The Israeli premier described the Iron Beam Laser System as a game-changing weapon.

“This is a game changer because we cannot only strike the enemy militarily but also weaken it economically. Until today it would cost us a lot of money to intercept every rocket," Bennett said. "Today they can invest tens of thousands of dollars in a rocket and we can invest $2 to cover the cost of the electricity in shooting down the rocket. We are galloping forward towards our enemies in order to ensure security for the State of Israel. We are now in a period of stable security but are strategically prepared – in every aspect – for any scenario."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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