Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Victor Sharpe: The Long Arm (Of Israel)

Onlookers gather to look at a huge fire that engulfed the Yarmook ammunition factory in Khartoum October 24. A huge fire broke out after a loud explosion at the arms factory in Sudan's capital Khartoum, a Reuters witness said. Soldiers blocked roads to the factory where more explosions took place as firefighters tried to contain the blaze.

On October 24th, 2012, shortly after midnight, four suspected Israeli jet aircraft penetrated Sudanese airspace, evading their radar, and destroying 70% of an Iranian weapons factory (operated by the Iranian Republican Guard) in Khartoum, Sudan.

This factory was not only making weapons for Hamas but producing Shehab missiles. The Yarmook weapons manufacturing site had a license from Iran to

build surface to surface missiles under Iranian guidance, which accounts why many Iranians were at the time in the facility where the factory was located. The missiles were being built as part of Iran's reserve should the Iranian regime come under attack.

The attack by the four jets is very significant because it shows the Iranian mullahs that the distance flown, presumably from Israel, was some 1,800-1,900 kilometers to reach the Sudanese arms factory; a distance longer than the 1,600 kilometers to the Iranian underground enrichment site of Fordo.

Obviously, the IDF had good air refueling capabilities for such attacks, but a strike on Iran’s many nuclear weapons sites would require the use of perhaps 100 planes and it is problematic if the IDF has enough air refueling aircraft. The IDF possesses the best radar jammers in their aircraft avionic systems and the Sudanese were thus totally shocked by the surprise night raid.

Sudan has been a major hub for al-Qaida terrorists and a transit for weapons smugglers to the Hamas occupied Gaza Strip.

In January and February of 2009 there were two other mysterious air attacks on weapons and missiles convoys in the Sudanese desert headed towards the Sinai and eventually Gaza.

Iran has between 300-400 Shehab missiles that could reach Israel. But as was seen in Operation Pillar of Cloud, Israel’s response to the missile blitz on Israeli civilians by Palestinians in Gaza, was the use of the successful Iron Dome anti-missile system and the soon to be deployed David’s Sling system, which is designed to shoot down longer range Iranian rockets that have a higher trajectory.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Victor,

    Nice job, it's always better to kill the archer, not the arrows. I doubt the Sudan had any kind of operational radar to worry about except at the Khartoum airport. Even had they been detected, they had little ability to defend themselves. The hardest part of the operation would be flying from Israel to the Sudan without Egyptian or Saudi air defense radars picking them up.

    That would require low level flying to stay under their radar or mimicking civilian air traffic. Jamming would only be a last resort as it screams military to experienced operators.

    Conventional wisdom would stack the odds heavily against the Israeli's in such an operation. Tanker requirements for in flight refueling would be substantial not only for the strike aircraft, but escort fighters and dedicated electronic warfare aircraft. The larger the number of aircraft involved, the more difficult it is to conceal and they would be flying over unfriendly territory there and back. Publically available information suggests that these installations are too deep underground to be attacked by the largest "bunker buster" type bomb an F-15 can carry. However, the Israeli's have a way of trumping traditional wisdom and even the best air defense equipment is no good if your operators are untrained and lack any significant warning to be alert. Damaging above groud support facilites and killing key personnel can stop production and send an unmistakable message.

    As such a tiny country, the Israeli's don't have the depth or reaction time to fight a defensive war and will strike without warning to get maximum effect.

    If I were a mullah, I might get an extra prayer rub.