Israeli military officials told Breaking Defense the US Air Force would provide refueling services for Israeli fighters during the exercise.
As Israeli leaders sound the alarm about what they say is an acute, active threat from Iran’s nuclear program, Israel plans to conduct a major military exercise, with US participation, part of which will simulate attacks on Iranian nuclear targets, according to Israeli officials.
Israeli military officials told Breaking Defense the US Air Force would provide refueling services for Israeli fighters, as was reported by Israel’s Channel 13. The US Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this report.
The news came as Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz alleged Tuesday that Iran was “just a few weeks” away from having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb.
“The price for tackling the Iranian challenge on a global or regional level is higher than it was a year ago and lower than it will be in a year,” Gantz said, alleging Iran is working to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges, including at an underground site near Natanz. “Iran continues to accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience in the development, research, production and operation of advanced centrifuges.”
Israeli officials told reporters the month-long military exercise, dubbed Chariots of Fire, is designed to resemble a war on several fronts, practicing in the event Israel decides to launch a multi-stage campaign. The portion of the exercise that would simulate attacks on Iranian nuclear sites will feature in the fourth and final week of the exercise.
A senior Israeli defense source told Breaking Defense that US “aerial refueling services will be performed in flight envelopes that may be used by Israel if and when Israel decides to act.”
That the exercise is being made so public — and is openly simulating attacks on Iran — is seen by Israeli officials beyond a readiness exercise as a warning to Tehran to return to serious negotiations over its nuclear program. As the world’s attention has focused on Ukraine in recent months, talks over a renewed Iranian nuclear deal, of which Israel has long been critical anyway, have fizzled.