Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Israel 'eyes Azerbaijan for raid on Iran'
by Staff Writers
Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) Dec 3, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Israel's reported to be planning to use giant, long-range Heron drones to launch stealthy pre-emptive strikes from Azerbaijan, Iran's pro-Western neighbor, on ballistic missile sites in Iran.

Iran, aware of the danger of Israeli air raids on several fronts, has been wooing oil-rich Azerbaijan to forestall possible strikes from the north, so far to no avail, however, as relations are badly strained.

The Sunday Times of London reported an undetermined number of Herons, which reputedly can carry 5 tons of payload and remain aloft for more than two days, would be used to hit Iranian missile sites with U.S.-built Hellfire missiles before the weapons could be launched.

The aim of the mooted Israeli strikes would be to knock out, or at least degrade, Tehran's ability to launch missile attacks in response to any Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Israeli intelligence estimates Iran has 200-300 Shehab-3 ballistic missiles operational. These have the range to hit Tel Aviv, Israel's largest population center, and strategic military targets such as air bases and Jericho ballistic missile sites.

Israeli and Azeri officials have denied recent reports that Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, would be used to hit Iran and there was no official verification of the Sunday Times report by Israel.

But Israel's Mossad intelligence service is known to operate in some strength in Azerbaijan to engage, with Azeri authorities, in a shadow war with Iranian intelligence operations reportedly aided by Lebanon's Hezbollah, in Azerbaijan.

Mossad also carries out spying operations inside Iran.

Israel has even denied it possesses hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicles but it has used these repeatedly in recent years to assassinate Palestinian militant commanders, most recently during the Nov. 14-21 war in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Aerospace Industries, which builds the Heron TP II, known as the Eitan, says the UAV can fly great distances -- its range is classified -- and reach any regional target by using satellite links.

The Israelis can detect preparations for missile launches in western Iran, 1,000 miles to the east, through an AN/TPY-2 X-band radar built by the U.S. Raytheon Co. deployed in 2009 at Nevatim Air Base in the Negev Desert south of Tel Aviv.

"We'll try to kill them in the booster stage, the moment their engines are ignited," the newspaper quoted a "well-informed Israeli military source" as saying.

"If that happens, and it isn't as easy as it sounds, then the remaining missiles will be finished by our Air Defense Command."

There has been much speculation Israel might also seek to launch manned airstrikes against Iran from Azeri airfields to avoid the risks of a 2,000-mile round trip, with at least two in-flight fuellings.

Alternatively they could arrange for the strike jets flown from Israel to land in Azerbaijan after hitting Iranian targets rather than fly the aircraft -- some could have battle damage -- all the way back to Israel.

Azerbaijan has four Soviet-era military airfields that could accommodate Israeli strike jets and aerial tankers and these bases are only a few hundred miles from most of the targets Israel wants to hit in Iran.

Deploying several dozen F-16I and F-15I aircraft in Azerbaijan would be difficult to achieve without detection.

Sending in a squadron or more of Heron Eitans might be less obvious, despite the craft's 75-foot wingspan.

All of this, of course, is speculative. Neither Israel nor Azerbaijan is going to openly discuss such a highly classified and politically perilous military operation.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran to prevent it acquiring nuclear weapons that would challenge Israel's monopoly in the Middle East.

The United States argues against Israeli strikes, claiming they'd ignite a regional war.

Netanyahu has stayed his hand but had made clear he views Iranian nuclear weapons as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Meantime, Israel has become a major arms supplier to Azerbaijan. In 2011, Israel signed a $1.6 billion arms deal with the government in Baku, Azerbaijan's capital on the Caspian.

That includes up to 60 UAVs, supposedly for surveillance and reconnaissance.

In return, the autocratic Baku regime of President Ilham Aliyev, considered a key U.S. ally in the region, provides Israel with oil from the Caspian.


Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at
Learn about missile defense at
All about missiles at
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Iran judge condemns American to death for spying
Tehran (AFP) Jan 9, 2012
An Iranian judge sentenced a US-Iranian man to death for spying for the CIA, media reported Monday, exacerbating high tensions in the face of Western sanctions on the Islamic republic's nuclear programme. Amir Mirzai Hekmati, a 28-year-old former Marine born in the United States to an Iranian family, was "sentenced to death for cooperating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and try ... read more

WSU researchers use 3-D printer to make parts from moon rock

China's Chang'e-3 to land on moon next year

Moon crater yields impact clues

Study: Moon basin formed by giant impact

NASA Mars Rover Fully Analyzes First Soil Samples

Curiosity Shakes, Bakes, and Tastes Mars with SAM

China prepares to grow vegetables on Mars: state media

Opportunity Gets to Work on Interesting Rock Targets

SciTechTalk: Media fixes for space junkies

NASA Voyager 1 Encounters New Region in Deep Space

Voyager discovers 'magnetic highway' at edge of solar system

Why Study Plants in Space?

Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

Space Station to reposition for science

Spacewalks on agenda for new space crew

NASA, Roscosmos Assign Veteran Crew to Yearlong Space Station Mission

Three ISS crew return to Earth in Russian capsule

S. Korea readies new bid to join global space club

Arianespace Lofts Pleiades 1B Using Soyuz Medium-lift launcher

Japan Schedules Radar Satellite Launch

Arianespace ready for next Soyuz and Ariane missions

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Brown Dwarfs May Grow Rocky Planets

Astronomers report startling find on planet formation

A Sky Full of Planets

Android extends global smartphone lead: survey

Experiment yields possible 'spooky' matter

ORNL develops lignin-based thermoplastic conversion process

Sender of first text message 'amazed' 20 years on

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement