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Air Based Offensive Against Iran- Possible?

This is a discussion on Air Based Offensive Against Iran- Possible? within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; There been increasingly hostile rhetoric between Israel and Iran. I was wondering how this type of strike would work and ...


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Old September 24th, 2012   #1
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Air Based Offensive Against Iran- Possible?

There been increasingly hostile rhetoric between Israel and Iran.
I was wondering how this type of strike would work and if it is even feasible.

Israeli Air Force is composed of strike fighters most notably the F-15i and F-16i. They are relatively small fighters with a limited range and weapons load. If they were to fly through Saudi Arabia(which granted secret passage) , they would prob need to do mid-air refuel and then break through Iranian Air Defenses, deliver their load and fly back.
There are major problems with this scenario.
1. weapons load- iranian facilities are scattered and located deep underground. I don't believe the Israeli air force has the munitions to take out the facilities. f-15s are way too small of a bomber. the only feasible option would be "nuclear" bunker busters. (which would be a tad ironic)
2. distance- this is a suicide mission. if they run into a dog fight, they might not be able to make it back. That is they actually make it to their target
3. politics- will other countries open up air space

US options
the US has far more strike options from B1a, B2, to B52s. I believe they would use the B2 bombers. they raced through the last couple of years to develop this super massive bunker buster and converted a few b2s to carry it. it is so big b2 can only carry 2 at a time.

either way, how would this even work?
how many sorties would be necessary?
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Old September 24th, 2012   #2
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if they run into a dog fight, they might not be able to make it back. That is they actually make it to their target
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the US has far more strike options from B1a, B2, to B52s.
So how would a Bomber fair in a dogfight?

You might want to read the Rules section at DT as the site dose not allow "X" Vs "Y" threads. The turn into a pissing comp
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Old September 24th, 2012   #3
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well I been around the block a few times on this site. I know the rules.

I am not looking for an valuation of who is better, I am looking for someone to better illustrate how an air offensive would be properly coordinated.

as a response to your other points
F-15i would be escorted by F-15s and F-16s.

US bombers would most likely use some sort electronic jamming and/or stealth.
I would say the the b1a and b52 definitely have the range and ordinance options to properly strike iran but would not be able to successfully lauch a surprise attack. so like I have stated before, I narrowed the most probable strike vehicle to be the b-2 which would not sneak in and out avoiding any dog fight.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #4
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well I been around the block a few times on this site. I know the rules.

I am not looking for an valuation of who is better, I am looking for someone to better illustrate how an air offensive would be properly coordinated.

as a response to your other points
F-15i would be escorted by F-15s and F-16s.

US bombers would most likely use some sort electronic jamming and/or stealth.
I would say the the b1a and b52 definitely have the range and ordinance options to properly strike iran but would not be able to successfully lauch a surprise attack. so like I have stated before, I narrowed the most probable strike vehicle to be the b-2 which would not sneak in and out avoiding any dog fight.
Of course any airstrike on any country for any reason by the USA would be preceded by fairly intense targeted bombardment using cruise missiles, and possibly carefully directed airstrikes... not at any nuclear target, but at the electronics, radar, command and control infrastructure, coastal anti-ship missiles and anti-air defenses. It is quite possible some form of local non-nuclear EMP munitions would be used to fry radar interception electronics.

The general plan is not to force bombers... even stealth bombers... to cross a gauntlet of fighters and anti-aircraft missiles. In other words... no bombers involved in dogfights. The idea is to clear the skies of fighters and the ground of missile defenses (as much as possible) before any bombers arrive on site. Once that is done... if it is done... bombers can then take out strategic targets at their leisure. Of course even then the bombers would be escorted by fighters.

Both Iraq wars exhibit the principle: own the skies and you get tons more room to maneuver. Since an attack of this nature would not (or sure as heck should not) involve ground troops (other than special forces units) ideally it would be only to accomplish a strategic objective vis-a-vis nuclear production sites.

Not saying this would be a cakewalk by any means. My only point is, I doubt bombers -- stealth or not -- would ever be part of a first wave.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #5
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The idea is to clear the skies of fighters and the ground of missile defenses (as much as possible) before any bombers arrive on site. Once that is done... if it is done... bombers can then take out strategic targets at their leisure. Of course even then the bombers would be escorted by fighters.


Not saying this would be a cakewalk by any means. My only point is, I doubt bombers -- stealth or not -- would ever be part of a first wave.
Not true, prime example being GW1

F117s were the first aircraft to strike Baghdad (I believe in the very early hours of the air campaign) and come to think of it, IIRC the F117A hit various targets like radar sites, C&C stations + hardened aircraft hangers and ultimately helped created the circumstances that allowed other coalition aircraft to be able to do their job by creating a radar "black hole" corridor. At least, that's how I remember it + that's certainly the feeling i'm getting flicking through 20th Century Battlefields' in the Gulf War part.

True, the Coalition had complete control of the air, but at least initially, Baghdad had a competent and active AAW defence network with radar sites which were active when the F-117A's went in.

Either way, it's illogical to suggest that a VLO aircraft (specifically designed to be able to penetrate highly contested airspace) wouldn't take part in a first wave, especially considering their survivability is far higher than older aircraft.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #6
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I agree but would the strike on nuclear facilities be completely reliant on the us af? I believe the gbu 37 is too small to penetrate deep enough. I believe the gbu 57 is the only effective option for many targets.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #7
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Iran's AD system is not really-first rate. From Planeguard's Bluffer Guides and other open-source items I've read, they haven't tried too hard to do system-wide refits and upgrades of their AD system (other than trying to get those S-300s from Russia). They've put lots of fairly short-range systems in and around critical sites, but don't seem to have put any nation-wide coordinated system up.

They seem to have adopted the Saddam strategy (post-1991) that the US will get through anyway, so go for localized defenses. Iran's primary defense/response is assymetric anyway.

I imagine US participation in an Iranian raid to look a lot like US attacks against Saddam-era systems in the late 1990s.

Note that I'm not convinced the US is going to participate in destructive raids anyway-I can see this being an all-Israeli operation like the attack on the al-Kibar reactor complex, with possible US logistical support (eg tankers and possibly AWACs providing some cueing/overwatch data to an Israeli strike package).
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Old September 25th, 2012   #8
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I agree but would the strike on nuclear facilities be completely reliant on the us af? I believe the gbu 37 is too small to penetrate deep enough. I believe the gbu 57 is the only effective option for many targets.
It's generally been thrown around that in a selection of cases, the MOP would be the only munition to have any real effect on facilities deep underground.

AFAIK only the B-2 (Maybe it's cleared for the B-52, but i don't know) is capable of delivering that weapon system.

So if the situation of needing the MOP to really clear out the nucleus of the Iranian nuclear programme, then any sort of unilateral action by Israel will yield very poor results.

In the best case scenario, every surface facility will be destroyed but the core of the programme will remain intact, not to mention potentially speeding up the programme and forcing more of it underground.

As to Iran responding, their hands would be tied. After all their rhetoric any other course of action would result in a large loss of face, at least, from my POV.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #9
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Not true, prime example being GW1

F117s were the first aircraft to strike Baghdad (I believe in the very early hours of the air campaign) and come to think of it, IIRC the F117A hit various targets like radar sites, C&C stations + hardened aircraft hangers and ultimately helped created the circumstances that allowed other coalition aircraft to be able to do their job by creating a radar "black hole" corridor. At least, that's how I remember it + that's certainly the feeling i'm getting flicking through 20th Century Battlefields' in the Gulf War part.

True, the Coalition had complete control of the air, but at least initially, Baghdad had a competent and active AAW defence network with radar sites which were active when the F-117A's went in.

Either way, it's illogical to suggest that a VLO aircraft (specifically designed to be able to penetrate highly contested airspace) wouldn't take part in a first wave, especially considering their survivability is far higher than older aircraft.
I think you'll notice the thrust of my post was the BIG bombers (B2, B1) would not be in the first wave to attack the nuclear sites. My entire point was the first strikes would be against electronic, C3, radar, air defense and coastal defense missiles. Which, if successful, would accomplish what goal? To clear the skies.

Clearing the skies above Iraq to give ground troops advance unhindered by missile or fighter attack WAS PRECISELY the end purpose of the F-117 and cruise missile strikes when combat opened. Tactical operations should always address a strategic goal.

GW1 relied on the very tactical operations I described for the express purpose of leaving the skies free of enemy fighters and enemy air defenses.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #10
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From what I have seen suggested elsewhere it will involve cyber warfare, cruise missiles, B2's and F22's. I imagine the cyber attack and cruise missiles will come first. Then F22s for to take out the air defences and Iranian fighters. Then B2's with the heavy bunker buster bombs. On paper the F22's and B2s are invunerable to air defences due to stealth nd the F22's supercruise.

Apparently there are allready F22 deployed in the middle east. Google it- there are plenty of news article about this.

This is if Israel doesn't strike first. I think the US is concerned that if Israel strikes, it wont be able to do the job completely- it won't take out the entire Iranian nuclear programme. Israel made strikes on Iraqi (1981) and Syrian (2007) nuclear programmes before. If i was Isreal I'd be worried about the tens of thousands or various rockets and missiles that Iran and it's regional allies have. If Israel made a strike, it would rain rockets for weeks.

A ground operation would be out of the question. It would be worse than Iraq. All the jihadis in the middle east would flock to Iran.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #11
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If Israel made a strike, it would rain rockets for weeks.
That is why I do not believe Israel would attack Iran alone...they need US.

I still stand by my original statement I kept preaching for weeks: I think its very dumb that there are such drastic measures for just some assumptions that Iran has nukes.They still have no evidence of such.

And dont you need to test your nukes in order to see if they work? Last I checked a nuke has never went off in Iran as a test..and can you really expect a nuke to work and your rockets to hit with 100% efficiency on your first try? Every single country that has a nuclear program has tested their nukes...and for some like North Korea, years of testing is still not enough...and Iran who has never tested a Nuke will just come out and make one that works, delivers, and evades missile shields on their first attempt? Give me a break...

If you suspect there is nuclear threat, focus on anti-missile technology. Screw the European shield, put shields all over the Israel border so that even if they throw a rock in the air, it will get shot down instantly(metaphorically speaking). But dont go into a conflict that takes other nations with you, if you had hard evidence than sure, but assumptions? A little too much if you ask me
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Old September 25th, 2012   #12
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The israelis are heavily invested in missile defense but they missile shields are unproven and unreliable. I think much of this fear and vigilance comes from Israel's survivalist mentality. if one bomb or missile gets through, the damage to the country and religion would be huge.

The US and Israel have to plan together. I believe it would HAVE to be a US/israel operation with the US doing majority of the blunt work. The US would have to prep US military bases around the region as well as fully mobilize its Navy. I would suspect that Sunni Ruled US Allies would be attacked as well. I imagine the Saudis to have some contribution indirectly(opening up air space) or direct(flying sorties).

Even though, this is most likely one of the messiest operations. It is not going to be like Kosovo or Gulf War 1 or the Iraq bombings under clinton.

Do you think it can be surgical? or does this involve like all out war?
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Old September 25th, 2012   #13
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The israelis are heavily invested in missile defense but they missile shields are unproven and unreliable. I think much of this fear and vigilance comes from Israel's survivalist mentality. if one bomb or missile gets through, the damage to the country and religion would be huge.

The US and Israel have to plan together. I believe it would HAVE to be a US/israel operation with the US doing majority of the blunt work. The US would have to prep US military bases around the region as well as fully mobilize its Navy. I would suspect that Sunni Ruled US Allies would be attacked as well. I imagine the Saudis to have some contribution indirectly(opening up air space) or direct(flying sorties).

Even though, this is most likely one of the messiest operations. It is not going to be like Kosovo or Gulf War 1 or the Iraq bombings under clinton.

Do you think it can be surgical? or does this involve like all out war?
Correct me if I'm wrong but hasn't Russia and China told the United States to stay out of Iran? I think that's the main thing that is holding the US back from teaming up with Israel and doing a joint strike.
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Old September 25th, 2012   #14
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I think it is more economic. The US wants to avoid this as much as possible. If there is war, there will be major shocks to the global oil supply which will cause all major economies further into a recession, possibly depression. The US will definately double dip.
The US would have do all the heavy lifting.

Another question

Can Israel provide anything meaningful in the event they strike Iran?
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Old September 25th, 2012   #15
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Can Israel provide anything meaningful in the event they strike Iran?

Just some good trained pilots....that's about it.

And why doesn't US put up their patriot missile systems on the Israel border? That would be a lot cheaper than a full scale attack. In the mean time they should honestly send spies or some type of agents to get an actual confirmation that Iran has nukes, then take further actions.

Because I am still convinced Iran has no nukes, and besides how stupid are they going to look once they bust these places open only to find out there was no nukes at all?
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