JOE SABALLA MAY 19, 2022
The Israeli Air Force plans to conduct a military exercise later this month simulating a large-scale strike on Iran, according to The Times of Israel.
The drill, dubbed Chariots of Fire, comes amid uncertainty about Iran’s return to the 2015 nuclear deal, which involves the US, China, Russia, France, Germany, and the UK.
According to the report, the simulation would focus on Iranian nuclear targets and take place over the Mediterranean Sea beginning on May 29.
Nearly all Israel Defense Force (IDF) units are expected to participate.
Apart from simulated strikes, Israel will focus on responding to potential retaliation by Iran and its allies.
Last year, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said that the military had been instructed to create fresh attack plans against Iran and its nuclear assets.
He further revealed that the Israeli armed forces had “greatly accelerated” preparations against Iran’s nuclear program.
Despite earlier claiming to have formulated a plan against Tehran’s nuclear facilities, several defense analysts said that aspects of the strike plan could take a year to become fully actionable.
One example is finding effective ways to strike Iranian facilities buried deep underground, as this requires specialized munitions and carefully-crafted tactics.
Additionally, the Israeli Air Force must find ways to neutralize increasingly sophisticated Iranian air defenses to carry out a successful offensive.
Purported US Involvement
In a separate report, The Times of Israel said that the US would participate in the large-scale exercise.
Citing Israeli TV channel Channel 13, the news outlet claimed that the US Air Force would only serve as a “complementary force” tasked with refueling Israeli planes as they simulate entering Iranian territory.
The alleged Israel-US aerial collaboration is seen as a “potential message” to Iran amid negotiations on the potential return of the 2015 nuclear deal.
However, a spokesman for the US Central Command has announced that the US Air Force refueling off the coast of Israel had no connection with the exercise.
“The tanker refuel (it was actually a dry refueling mission – no actual fuel was delivered) was not tied to the Israeli exercise,” Army Col. Joe Buccino told The War Zone.