One of 8 Israeli F-16s heavily damaged by massive floods at airbase
For the past week or more, the Middle East has been subject to massive flooding. Israel has been especially hard hit. A young couple drowned in an elevator in their Tel Aviv apartment building. But the flooding has had even wider military consequences for Israel’s Air Force. One of its main bases is Hatzor (pictured on map), in the south between Ashdod and Ashkelon. It houses Squadron 101, whose F-16s would be tasked with executing massive retaliation should an enemy wipe out Israel’s Jericho ICBM’s situated at its Sdot Micha (also known as Sdot Ha’Elah) base.
There are underground hangars housing a portion of the F-16 force at Hatzor. An immense and sudden flood poured into the hangars (according to the air force spokesperson 13-million cubic feet of water poured into the site within 30 minutes) and innundated at least eight planes worth $160-million (and far more if you include the sophisticated avionics installed by Israeli engineers). Pictures of the hangars show F-16s sitting in deep pools of water reaching at least to the middle of the plane’s fuselage. Though it’s hard to tell just how much damage the flooding caused, clearly a $20-million plane with its advanced electronic equipment and weapons systems isn’t meant to sit in water for hours on end. I’m guessing that the damage would involve destruction of electrical systems and weapons control systems. Given how expensive the planes are to begin with, repairs to them could run into the millions. Statements from the air force that the damage would be repaired within a week beggars belief.
As if this massive fashla wasn’t enough, yesterday the military censor tried for several hours to force Israeli media to remain quiet about the incident. But there was enough of a furor that the censor eventually relented and the news was reported. At least some of it was. That’s where I come in. I’ll tell you what remains under the censor’s thumb.
Israel HaYom report raised questions about the precise mission of the squadron whose planes were damaged
Squadron 101 is one of the air force’s most elite units. One of whose former commanders was once shot down and captured by Syria. Despite being tortured, he refused to expose any of Israel’s nuclear secrets. The Syrians eventually tortured him to death.
Though the mission of this unit as described above has never been published before, I learned it after Israel HaYom published an especially harsh criticism of the accident. The reporter alluded to the fact that the unit was part of an especially critical mission that demanded constant readiness. On reading this, I subsequently learned from an informed source what the mission of these F-16s at Hatzor is. In the event of a war in which an Israeli enemy destroys the country’s ICBM missiles, Squadron 101 would be tasked with attacking the enemy with weapons from Israel’s nuclear stockpile. Thus, the unit is a key element of Israel’s Doomsday Defense as well as part of its nuclear deterrent.
In light of this disaster, Israel’s military readiness was seriously compromised, even if only temporarily. That’s what the censor really didn’t want you to know: a key element of Israel’s air defense in the event of catastrophic war was destroyed by negligence.