A few days ago, I published two different reports: one on Israeli war games simulating an attack on Iran; the second on Iranian sabotaging of four Israeli drones over the past two years. Tonight’s post will draw those two reports together in some quite amazing and disturbing ways.
Regular readers will recall that in the post about the drone failures I quoted an anonymous Israeli source who appeared quite knowledgeable about Israel’s UAV program. The same source has offered a new report that is even more alarming than the first one he sent.
He says that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, operating out of the Bekaa Valley, have so compromised Israel’s drone fleet that it cannot be used for the critical mission Israel has set for them: to disable Iran’s air defenses as preparation for an IAF assault on Iranian targets, including its nuclear program. Without UAV capability, Israel must use conventional means to knock out Iran’s anti-aircraft systems. That would be too costly considering distance and other technical challenges. All this leads to the possible conclusion that if Bibi attacks Iran he would have to consider very seriously using a nuclear weapon (or as the source calls it, ‘BVR tactical nukes’).
He notes the latest sabotage of an Israeli drone occurred during Israel’s semi-secret war games over Greece simulating an attack on Iran. Imagine the drama and frustration of preparing for this momentous battle and the key element of your initial attack phase is neutralized.
Another mind-blowing claim of this report is that Israel is collaborating with Saudi Arabia on a possible attack on Iran: that IDF personnel are stationed on Saudi soil and that Israeli drones which would attack Iran are based there. Note that Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar, recently made a secret trip to Israel. What might be so important that it would require such an extraordinary trip (no senior Saudi official has ever visited Israel as far as I know)? Stationing Israeli personnel and armaments on Saudi soil and coordinating a potential attack on Iran warrant that.
The real story behind the Israeli UAV crash landing into the Mediterranean Sea, last week off the shores of Ashdod, is more complicated and worrisome than I first told you.
Last Wednesday (October 9th), the IAF conducted a long-range exercise to rehearse the executing of an attack on Iran. The opening move on behalf of the IAF calls for a large-scale drone strike against Iranian air-defense batteries in the vicinity of the different Iranian main targets.
…The drones are…to be launched from [a] few countries located to the north and west of Iran. That is due to [the] UAV’s range and number of targets. I think they are talking about Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. The location in Saudi Arabia is the city of Khafji. A few of my colleagues, have been there recently.
The Heron UAV is [tasked with] intelligence coverage and relay services and the Hermes 450 and Harpy drones…provide weapon delivery. Although the Heron has the ability to carry its own weapon systems, the required [payload for this mission exceeds its capacity]; the plan calls for the use of the Hermes and Harpy UAVs as the main weapon delivery-systems.
All three UAVs (Heron, Hermes 450 and Harpy) share the same guidance system. On January 28th 2012, a Heron UAV crashed outside of Tel-Nof Air-Base in the center of Israel. The formal cover up story in the news was that its wing broke off. The real story was that the Control Center lost control over the UAV and ‘someone’ else flew the UAV and mistakenly crashed it. Electronic evidence led to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) unit stationed in the Bek’aa Valley in Lebanon.
The IAF decided to decommission the entire Heron fleet for 8 months. During this time, Israel Air Industries (IAI) allocated a team of 50 engineers to secure the guidance system and make it un-hackable.
Last Tuesday, when the Hermes was deliberately brought down, it was during the final phases of testing the new guidance system. The disappointment in Israel is huge. Electronic analysis carried as part of a post-mortem…led to the same IRG compound in the Bak’aa Valley and to another unit stationed near Beirut.
I wanted to clarify one aspect of my original reporting on the drone crash at Tel Nof, which the source describes above. In that first post on the crash (linked above), a separate Israeli source alleged that the drone was actually a Hezbollah UAV and that Iran and its Lebanese allies were trying to attack the air base. This source now concedes that this part of his report was incorrect. The drone wasn’t foreign. It was Israeli. But it was being piloted by the IRG, who accidentally crashed it into the base as the source of this latest message indicates.
Thus far, he has dealt with the drone sabotage and the role UAVs played in Israel’s battle plan against Iran. The next passage analyzes how such a major military failure may force Israel to adopt far more drastic measures for any attack.
I want to add that while what the source suggests below may not happen and may appear far-fetched to some, the desperation Bibi faces is very real and when desperate men act they can do dangerous and desperate things. This report appears to be authored by an Israeli military official deeply worried that Bibi may do something exceedingly stupid. If that’s true, then we should be very worried. That’s why I believe this passage should be taken very seriously by Obama administration officials:
IAF planners have been working on their plans to attack Iran for years…The IAF [has reported] that due to Iranian superiority [compromising the drone navigation systems], it will be impossible to use UAV’s as Iranian air-defense batteries suppressors, to open the way for the main IAF strike.
As a result of this ultimate fuck-up and to cover up the real facts, PM Bibi ordered to release of the mid-air refueling video, and instructed MK Hanegbi to make his statement. Bibi is basically bluffing on an empty hand try[ing to] maintain a [strong] posture and delay sanctions relief.
[The] situation is very dangerous at the moment, since there is no real option [for] eliminating the Iranian air-defense batteries using UAV’s. Other conventional means bear too much risk.
Israel is being pushed [to] launch BVR [Beyond Visual Range] tactical nukes as the main way to attack Iran. I don’t know if you read Bib’s comparisons, but the lunatic is comparing himself to Churchill, and with Israel’s isolation growing I fear he’s losing it and will attack. Ronen Shoval, one of Bibi’s proxies, published an op-ed calling for a tactical nuclear attack, Shoval would have never stated that without Bibi’s specific instruction.
To be very clear, I do not know the source’s identity. I have done as much due diligence as I can to verify the information he offered. I have not been able to debunk or discredit it. But since I don’t know the source, I can’t confirm its authenticity.
All that being said, anyone who derides this report without seriously weighing its substance will look awfully stupid if Bibi does decide to ‘do the Slim Pickens’ and take a ride on an ICBM to Natanz.
NOTE: For any Hebrew speakers out there, I wanted to point out that the Israeli military forum, Fresh, which denounced the post I published about Israel’s battle plan against Iran, has pinned a post about the Israeli drone story at the top of its Security forum section. It’s nice to go from being a bum to a hero (well, not quite–there are lots of readers there thinking unprintable thoughts about me, but whatever). Clearly, Fresh takes these latest reports and my source seriously which is a nice change of pace.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.