Israel has only a handful of flight paths it can use to bomb Iran's alleged nuclear sites, and one of those is off the table after Saudi Arabia vowed to take down any Israeli jet flying its airspace.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reports the message was passed through senior U.S. officials in Jerusalem and came straight from Riyadh.
The paper also reports that Israeli officials firmly believe the threat is part of an American plan to thwart a lone Israeli strike, and the the U.S. could certainly persuade the Saudis to open their airspace if it chose to do so.
Regardless, military experts have been saying for months an Israeli air strike would be a very elaborate affair involving more than 100 planes, from jets to re-fueling tankers, over 1,000 miles to strike eight Iranian targets.
CNN published a map outlining four possible routes Israel would have to use to perform the mission:
- One has Israel flying over the Mediterranean Sea, through Turkish airspace and into Iran
- The second has Israel flying over Jordan, though Iraqi airspace and into Iran (the most direct route)
- The third over Saudi Arabia and into Iran
- And the fourth, and by far the longest, around Saudi Arabia, over the Arabian Sea, and into Iran from the south
Another possibility floated by David Cenciotti at The Aviationist has Israel using Azerbaijan airfields from which to launch an attack. Though he admits it an unlikely scenario, Cenciotti took a close look at Azeri airfields using Google earth and poses some interesting possibilities that are definitely worth checking out.
The New York Times believes the most likely route is the one over Jordan, the most direct and requiring the least amount of re-fueling. It's believed the Israelis are short of the tankers they need to keep their jets in the air for the longer flights, so this makes sense.If the Times and its array of experts are correct, then this warning from the Saudis may not mean too much at all.
Asian Defence News