Israeli Air Force hits 3,000 targets a day in massive 3-day exercise simulating war with Hezbollah

Israel’s Air Force also carried out a surprise call-up of reserves and was pleased when 85% responded.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Israel Air Force (IAF) announced Tuesday that it had wrapped up a three-day military exercise simulating a war with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

The exercise, which lasted for nearly 60 hours, was launched Sunday based on a scenario in which an Israeli plane was hit by a Hezbollah missile, a possibility given that two weeks ago the Iran-backed terror group fired an anti-aircraft missile at an IAF drone over Lebanon.

The missile missed its target, prompting Channel 12 news to note at the time that “the fact that Hezbollah dares to fire is very significant, and it seems that the defense establishment will have to pay attention to it.”

In the three-day exercise dubbed “Galilee Rose,” the Israeli military hit 3,000 simulated Hezbollah targets a day, a senior IAF source told Channel 12, adding that during the month-long 2006 war with Lebanon, 4,000-5,000 targets in Lebanon were attacked in the area during the entire conflict.

“The first day focused mainly on planning and preparing for a war-time scenario, while days two and three were dedicated to around-the-clock fighting,” said Lt. Col. O, head of training, in an IAF statement. “The final day centered around defending Israel’s airspace.”

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The exercise tested “all components” of the Air Force’s mission, including “maintaining aerial superiority, protecting the country’s skies, as well as attacking and gathering intelligence,” the IAF said.

An Air Force source said units carried out most of the missions in the face of the threat of Russian and Iranian surface-to-air missiles that could reach the Lebanese theater of operations from within Syria. The simulated attack focused mainly on southern Lebanon.

At the same time, a major air defense exercise took place against a possible attack by Hezbollah cruise missiles as well as by conventional rockets and missiles fired at IDF bases and Israeli civilian population centers, based on Hezbollah’s readiness to target civilians.

The IAF tested the best way to eliminate the bank of targets “in the most professional and efficient manner, while avoiding harming innocent people, which becomes complex because in the Lebanese space the enemy is entrenched into the civilian urban spaces,” the IAF source said, referring to the Hezbollah tactic of placing its rocket launchers in neighborhoods, a classic case of using human shields.

The IDF scenario included the possibility of a deterioration into a full war that would see Israel hit by Hezbollah fire.

“The damage to the Israeli home front and the Air Force during a campaign is an issue that is being practiced and taken into account in the current exercise as well,” the source said.

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The exercise included a surprise call-up of reservists designed to test Air Force operations to see what works and what needs improvement. Eighty-five percent showed up despite the pandemic. It was expected that a certain percentage of reservists would be no-shows due to illness, being abroad or other reasons.