Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Is Israel Readying A Major Air Strike?


There's a tidbit I picked up in my wandering that might end up being significant.

The Israeli Air Force announced that an Israeli F-16 experiencing engine failure and crashed into the Mediterranean a few miles off the Gaza Strip while on maneuvers yesterday. Both airmen ejected and were rescued at sea after a brief time in the ocean.

Here comes the interesting part. The IAF also announced that the engine failure was due to a technical glitch that caused the engine to switch off,as as a consequence the air force commander, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel announced he had decided to "ground all F16 and F15 planes until circumstances of the incident are reviewed."

This is downright strange.

First off, like most other branches of the IDF, to describe the IAF as closemouthed about things like this is a rank understatement, let alone publicly announcing the grounding of its two major workhorse airplanes like that. It's almost an invitation for a drone attack from Hezbollah or an airstrike by, say, the Syrians or one of Israel's other Arab foes.

The wholesale grounding itself is fishy. A single engine plane like an F-16 obviously has certain normal hazards in operation, but the Pratt-Whitney engines used in these planes have thousands of flying hours without a hitch, are pretty reliable and have outstanding safety records. Not only that, but the F-16 in question - if it actually crashed- would still be at the bottom of the sea, which would bring into question how Israel was able to determine the cause so quickly.

A quick search on my part shows there's never been a wholesale grounding like this because of a simple engine failure. In fact the only time there's ever been a wholesale grounding of F-16s was about five years ago, and it was not an engine problem but a structural glitch that caused one particular model to fall apart while airborne under certain conditions. And the grounding was not limited to Israel.

So what are we to make of this?

The Israelis have a great track record of successfully using deception as a tactic against their enemies in war, showing footage of soldiers frolicking on the beaches on holiday before a major strike, releasing news stories about massive overhauls of their armored forces, stories about redeployments that never happened, that sort of thing.

Normally, before an airstrike that would involve significant numbers of planes, the aircraft involved would normally go through a complete maintenance check by the ground crews, and that many planes on the ground suddenly would signal to foreign intelligence that a strike by the IAF was imminent.But if a number of planes are grounded for a 'safety review'....

One final bit. One of my sources informs me that the coming days In closing, we offer this final tidbit: the coming days represent a period of extremely low moonlight in Iran, which would be ideal conditions for a night attack against certain nuclear facilities if someone decided to pull that off. Or even to do a clandestine run through.

That's a huge stretch and I acknowledge that.And there may very well be no connection here. But this announcement of a 'grounding' does give the IAF a convenient excuse to put a lot of planes on the ground for maintenance and 'inspections' at an interesting time.

Stay tuned.

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