Late on May 31, dozens of Israeli Air Force fighter jets conducted a drill over the Mediterranean Sea, simulating a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
In a statement released on June 1, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that the large-scale drill included “long-range flight, aerial refueling and striking distant targets”. The drill has also focused on preparing for and responding to a retaliation by Iran to any such strike.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported that the US Air Force was supposed to serve as a complementary force with refueling planes during the drill. The US Central Command denied this report, saying “there is no direct US military involvement in that exercise.”
The drill was a part of the IDF’s Chariots of Fire exercise, which simulates a multifront and multidimensional war against Israel’s enemies, including Hezbollah, in the air, at sea, on land and on the cyber front. Nearly all branches of the IDF are taking part in the exercise, which is set to end on June 3.
Attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities will represent a serious challenge to the IDF. Not only these facilities are located far away from Israel’s border, but they are also well-fortified and protected by a complex air defense network.
These difficulties and Iran’s ability to strike back has forced Israel to refrain from taking any overt military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, so far.
With the talks between the US and Iran on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, that didn’t appease Israel, dragging on, Tel Aviv appears to be exploring its overt and covert military options, or at least using them to mount more pressure on Tehran.
In May, Israel was blamed for the assassination of Quds Force Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari in Tehran, as well as for the deadly explosion at Parchin military complex to the southwest of the Iranian capital.
Israel’s escalation will likely be met with a serious response from Iran, whose armed forces have been also preparing for a multifront and multidimensional military confrontation with both the IDF and the US military.
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