Government reportedly budgeted $1.5 billion for possible air strike.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
After a two-year hiatus, the Israeli Air Force is once again practicing for a possible strike on nuclear facilities in Iran, according to Hebrew media reports.
An unsourced Channel 12 report said that IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi ordered that funds for exercises simulating strikes on Iranian facilities be set aside, and directed the air force to train “intensely.”
During the summer, the Israeli government agreed on a $17.5 billion budget for 2022. At a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz defended the budget increase saying the funds were necessary to prepare for a possible strike.
Channel 12 reported that the government was allocating $1.5 billion for an attack, with much of the funds earmarked for procuring aircraft, drones and specialized weapons needed to hit Iran’s numerous reinforced underground facilities.
Israel’s inability to pass a state budget during two years of caretaker government effectively froze the budgets of government ministries, including Defense based on the 2019 budget.
The report came as Israel and Iran both held major air force exercises.
Israel is currently hosting Operation Blue Flag, the largest multinational aerial exercise ever held in the Jewish state. The U.S., Britain, India, France, Germany, Greece and Italy are participating in the annual two-week drill, primarily based at the Ovda air base north of Eilat.
Iran’s Air Force held an exercise, Guardians of the Velayet Sky 1400. Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency reported that the annual drill tested the capabilities of various indigenous and upgraded systems and weapons.
The IAF is the only air force that has ever struck nuclear facilities. The IAF destroyed Iraq’s Osirak reactor, thwarting dictator Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions. In 2007, the IAF destroyed Syria’s Al Kibar facility, which was being developed with assistance from Iran and North Korea.
In September, the IDF announced that Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar will become the next Air Force commander. He will replace Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin.