Friday, June 06, 2008

Analysis: An undetectable route to Iran

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"Ten fighter jets take off from a base in northern Israel, fly over Jordan, Iraq and into Iran to bomb air-defense missile systems, radar stations and nuclear facilities. They then leave Iranian airspace safely without sustaining any enemy fire:" this is, basically, the "undetectable route to Iran," found by Israeli journalist Yaakov Katz to be "realistic in the near future." In an analysis published in the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post, Katz noted that the key for that route was the F-22 single-seater, double-engine aircraft, manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. "Through a combination of its shape, composite materials, color and other integrated systems, it can fly in enemy airspace without being detected," he said. To date, the US government has clamped an embargo on the sale of the aircraft to foreign countries. But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly raised the issue with President George Bush in Washington according to the analysis. Other talks have taken place in recent months at the Defense Ministry-Pentagon level. The analysis quoted defense sources as affirming that the Pentagon might be inclined to change its mind and allow a sale to Israel, particularly in light of the looming nuclear threat from Iran. "The F-22 would be used in an air strike to first blow out enemy air defense systems and radar stations and to create "clear skies" for the rest of the IAF's fleet of F-15 and F-16 bombers," it read. Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy, who stepped down as IAF commander last month, admitted on several occasions that given the opportunity, Israel would buy the F-22, no matter the $150 million per-unit price tag. Shkedy's principle was that Israel always needs to have the most-advanced and most-superior military platforms. The analysis quoted Yiftah Shapit, an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies and author of its annual Middle East Military Balance Report, as saying that if the ban was lifted in the coming months, Israel could potentially receive the plane within the next two years. By contrast, Israel is set to receive the stealth JSF in 2014, or 2013 at the earliest. "The F-22 would provide Israel with a new level of air dominance," Shapir said. "It is questionable whether Israel really needs it, but it would certainly contribute to IAF capabilities in face of the Iranian threat." (Al-Manar TV)

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