As part of Israel’s large-scale military drill this month—“Chariots of Fire”—the Israeli Air Force, along with some help from the US, will conduct an exercise simulating a large-scale strike to take out Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Tuesday that Iran is just a “few weeks” away from having enough nuclear material to make a bomb. Gantz also said that the Islamic Republic is racing to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced centrifuges at a new underground lab at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.
While a military strike on Iran would not be without risk, and negotiations by Western nations seem to be stalled and unable to halt Iran’s nuclear progress, Gantz indicated that Israel will do what she needs to do to protect herself—whether there is outside help or not…and Israel will not wait much longer. “The price for tackling the Iranian challenge on a global or regional level is higher than it was a year ago and lower than it will be in a year.” Gantz’s comments came at the same time Iran announced that it had started manufacturing a new military drone—the Ababil-2—in Tajikistan.
“Chariots of Fire” is a month-long series of military war games currently being conducted in Israel, where every unit and branch of the Israeli armed forces are testing their preparedness should war break out on multiple fronts, to the north or the south, in the air, on land, at sea or in cyberspace—or all of the above. On May 29, as part of the final week of exercises, Israeli forces will conduct large-scale air maneuvers, including a simulated attack on Iranian nuclear targets.
Last year, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi announced that the military was drawing up plans to attack Iran’s nuclear program. The plans are still in the early development phase (some parts may take up to a year to deploy. The facilities in Iran are deep underground, and a strike will require special munitions and strategies. Also, the Israel Air Force (IAF) will need to prepare to evade Iranian air defenses and retaliation by Iran and its regional allies on the return trip home and afterward. The upcoming drill is to prepare for the expected fallout from the strike.
The US Air Force will partner in the exercise, providing Israeli fighter jets with refueling services as they practice drill strikes and simulate going in and out of Iranian territory.
Israel also is turning to a special new AI (artificial intelligence) military unit to provide the necessary intelligence for troops to take out specific targets and minimize civilian casualties. During “Chariots of Fire,” the unique intel unit is practicing supplying IAF and other fighting units with the information they need to successfully strike targets such as rocket launching sites, enemy headquarters, and more, even under the strain of war.
The AI processes and analyzes large amounts of data that military intelligence has collected from text messages, phone calls, surveillance camera footage, satellite images, and more. The system then provides recommendations on what and when to strike, which is then double-checked by human personnel.
The AI intel unit was instrumental in the Gaza Strip war last year and in other operations since then. According to military estimates, AI intel has led to a 400 percent increase in the number of targets Israel is prepared to strike, particularly to the north. Defense Minister Gantz has indicated that the list Israel has prepared for Lebanon is “bigger and more significant than the one for Gaza.” Potentially, the air force and other fighting units could hit thousands of targets a day should war break out.
Even during this military drill, Israel has had to deal with real threats. On Tuesday, Israeli troops downed a Chinese-made quadcopter drone flying from Lebanon. And on Thursday, the Iron Dome shot down a “suspicious” UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) aircraft flying over the Gaza Strip.