Aluf Benn and Amos Harel / Ha’aretz & Press-TV – 2008-09-17 22:34:26
US to Sell IAF Smart Bombs for Heavily Fortified Targets
Aluf Benn and Amos Harel / Ha’aretz
TEL AVIV (September 17, 2008) — Despite reservations in Washington regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran, the American administration will supply Israel with sophisticated weapons for heavily fortified targets, the US administration announced.
The US Department of Defense announced it would sell the Israel Air Force 1,000 new smart bombs, rumored to significantly enhance the IAF’s military capabilities. The deal was approved amid public and secret messages from Washington, with the Americans expressing their reservations about a possible Israeli strike against the Islamic Republic’s suspected nuclear sites.
The Pentagon’s announcement, which came on Friday, said the US will provide Israel with 1,000 units of Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39) – a special weapon developed for penetrating fortified facilities located deep underground.
The $77 million shipment, which includes launchers and appurtenances, will allow the IAF to hit many more bunkers than currently possible. Although each bomb weighs 113 kilograms, its penetration capabilities equal those of a one ton bomb, according to professional literature.
Most US Air Force aircraft are able to carry a pack of four of these bombs in place of a single one-ton bomb. The bomb’s small size allows a single-strike aircraft to carry more of the munitions than is possible utilizing currently available bomb units, thus increasing firepower, or, alternatively, allowing the aircraft to fly longer distances to deliver a single bomb.
During demonstrations, the GBU-39 – labeled by the manufacturer, Boeing, as a Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) – has successfully penetrated more than 1.8 meters of thick reinforced concrete with a 23-kilogram warhead. The GPS-guided weapon is said to have a 50-percent probability of hitting its intended target within 5-8 meters, which should minimize collateral damage.
The estimated value for the bomb’s GPS version, which military experts have called the latest development in the bunker-buster line, is around $70,000 to $90,000 for each individual bomb.
The US has already supplied Israel with earlier versions of bunker busters. In 2005, the Pentagon authorized the sale of GBU-28 to Israel, in a move that commentators construed as a hinted threat aimed at Iran. Haaretz reported earlier this month that the US was hesitant about selling Israel heavier busters.
The Pentagon’s announcement also said that the US would help upgrade the Israel Defense Forces’ patriot anti-aircraft missiles – which Israel uses as part of its missile-interception array. Israel will also receive 28,000 LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) tube launchers for land forces.
US Spawns Prospect for Israel War on Iran
TEHRAN (September 14, 2008) — The US will reportedly equip Israel with highly advanced smart bombs capable of taking out fortified nuclear installations in Iran.
The ‘bunker-buster’ bombs, the Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39), have been developed to penetrate fortified facilities located deep underground – such as Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Despite escalating speculation that Tel Aviv plans to launch attacks against Iran, Haaretz reported that the US Department of Defense confirmed on Friday that it would sell 1,000 GBU-39 units to Israel.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested last week that should Iran continue with its uranium enrichment program, it could be attacked by Israel.
“We could find one morning that Israel has struck (Iran),” said the French president, adding that no one would question the legitimacy of such an act of aggression.
US President George W. Bush and upper echelons in Tel Aviv have repeatedly threatened Iran with war under the pretext that Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), seeks nuclear weaponry.
This is while the UN nuclear watchdog, which has extensively monitored Iran’s nuclear activities and has been inspecting the country’s nuclear installations since 2003, said in its most recent report that there is no link between the use of nuclear material and the ‘alleged studies’ of weaponization that Western countries attribute to Iranian sites.
The UN body has also confirmed that Iran enriches uranium-235 to a level of only 3.7 percent – a rate consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.
Israel, however, is determined to use ‘any option’ to stop Iran’s nuclear work, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in early September.
The small size of GBU-39, which has been designed to enable jet fighters to carry a higher number of bombs in place of a single one-ton bomb, will allow the Israeli Air Force to hit more of Iran’s ‘numerous, distant, and fortified’ nuclear sites than currently possible.
The bombs are capable of penetrating 6 feet (at least 1.8 meters) of reinforced concrete and more than 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) of steel-reinforced concrete.
An unnamed Pentagon official revealed to the Sunday Telegraph in July that US commanders have had ‘little confidence’ with ‘no guarantee’ that Israel would be able to destroy the Iranian nuclear program.
An Israeli Air Force equipped with GBU-39s, however, may be able to provide the ‘guarantee’ the US has been seeking.
Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Friday that he would not accept any military action against Iran.
In the past decade, Russia has helped Tehran in the construction of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr.
Electricity shortage has forced the government in Tehran to adopt a rationing program by scheduling power outages – of up to two hours a day – across both urban and rural areas in the country.
A source close to the Russian military said last week that Moscow is considering providing Iran with more nuclear assistance amid Russia’s escalating tensions with the US over the August crisis in the Caucasus – which Russia says was orchestrated by the Bush administration.
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