Israeli air strike options against Iran

Israel maintains a very capable and potent air force.  With a mix of domestically developed technologies and a steady supply of modern fighters from abroad, it’s main limitation is it’s long range strike capabilities to penetrate Iranian defenses.

With more than 350 aircraft, Israel’s main options are the F-15I and F-16I fighters, of which is essentially a modified F-16 Advanced Block 52 with conformal fuel tanks and upgraded radar.   The main features developed by Elisra, include jammers, radar and missile warning systems, and most importantly has the ability to carry a diverse range of weapons that can cause significant damage to Iranian facilities.

It is understood, that with Israel’s new additions to the F-16I, it could attack targets within Iran using Rafael Popeye 1 and Popeye 2 missiles from a safer distance of 80km from Iranian air defenses.

The F-15I Ra’am is an Israeli modified version of the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle with domestically developed jamming, radar/missile warning and other various upgrades.  It carries the GBU-28/B penetrating  laser guided bomb which has the ability to penetrate 30 m of earth and 6 m of concrete is could possible inflict major damage to Iranian underground nuclear facility of Natanz with multiple hits.

In any strike scenario, significant intelligence would be needed on Natanz and Fordow to calculate penetration capabilities and explosive power needed to locate and destroy critical elements of Iranian nuclear work.

Attack Routes

Strategic Iranian air defenses would require Israel to use indirect flight paths to avoid detection and increase the likelihood of success.  The direct route would be over Jordan and Iraq with neither sure to give permission to use its air space and risk domestic unrest.    The most likely and safest route would be south of Amman, Jordan and though Saudi Arabia avoiding HAWK surface to air missile systems and over Iraq.  A northern route is nearly off the table with Turkey and Israeli relations at a low point.

Ballistic missiles which Israel has developed under the Jericho name, could theoretically possess the necessary range to strike Iran.  Increased range and a payload of 1500 kg, Israel could fit nuclear warheads up to one megaton.

The Jericho 3 missile has been rumored to be active since last year with a range of nearly 5,000 km.  It carries 3 re-entry vehicle warheads and could have its range increased to 6,500 km however any Israeli nuclear strike would not be the the first option with its air force capable of better accuracy and nuclear fallout being disastrous for the entire region.