Monday, January 22, 2007
i was playin with guns while your mama had your punk ass playin tennis:
Matt tries to squash the beef between him, Brad Plumer and Richard Just after Richard's latest post. But I'm not as classy. Admittedly, it's hard to tell what exactly Richard is arguing, since he drifts in and out of agnosticism about the wisdom of Israel attacking Iran. (Note: this last sentence was corrected.) At one point, however, he addresses the case of the much-quoted, oft-truncated Rafsanjani quote, and concludes:
So, even if Yglesias is right that "such an eventuality" refers only to the loss of Israel's nuclear superiority, Rafsanjani is celebrating that loss of superiority because it will allow Iran to pursue Israel's destruction by conventional means.
To people who know something about military affairs, this is ... not the greatest interpretation. The prospect of Israel losing to Iran in a conventional military conflict is absurd. The IDF is much, much more powerful than the Iranian military. If I were the Ramatkal, the best war I could ever imagine with Iran would be one in which Iran decides to launch a conventional attack. If Iran decides to send its pilots on a bombing mission, look what they'd be flying in:
As of 2000 it was estimated that only 40 of the 132 F-4Ds, 177 F-4Es and 16 RF-4E. Phantoms delivered before 1979 remained in service. At that time, approximately 45 of the 169 F-5E/Fs delivered are still flying, while perhaps 20 F-14A Tomcats of the 79 initially delivered were airworthy. Another 30 F-4s, 30 F-5s and 35 F-14s have been cannibalized for spare parts. One report suggested that the IRIAF can get no more than seven F-14s airborne at any one time. Iran claims to have fitted F-14s with I-Hawk missiles adapted to the air-to-air role.
Seven F-14s! One wishes not to be cavalier about the threats allies face, but the IAF has this one well in hand. Let's not bother talking about ground forces. Or training. Or weaponry. Or command structure. Or battle experience. Let's say that Richard is correct that Rafsanjani was talking about blunting Israel's nuclear arsenal in order to even the playing field for a conventional war. If so, Tel Aviv should be popping fucking champagne bottles to celebrate the national suicide of Iran. More likely, Rafsanjani wasn't making this point, but rather making a point about deterrence while sounding bellicose notes on a national holiday filled with ugly -- but rather typical -- patriotic gore.
--Spencer Ackerman

A couple years ago Iran put 16 F-14s over the Gulf at one time. They also have a substantial number of Mig-29s and Su-24s. The F-14s have probably been upgraded from the technology available at the time of the Shah; also important to remember that the USN retired the F-14 not because of performance (which is pretty much equivalent to an F/A-18), but rather because of maintenance.

Now, none of that challenges your basic conclusion, because Israeli platforms and especially Israeli training and doctrine are still superior to Iranian. But the Iranian Air Force isn't a joke, and could probably present some difficulties for an Israeli airstrike distant from its bases.
Blogger Robert Farley | 2:32 PM