My last three postings have discussed some of the factors in a military option to strike a tough target set — Iranian nuclear facilities. Wait a few years, and the conditions for success in such a strike could get even tougher. First, if they want to, Iran could disperse more and more of its critical enrichment capabilities. If they ever do build a weapons stockpile expect it to be hardened, deeply buried and dispersed.
Second, Iran’s air defenses are already tight. Add Russian SA-20s to the mix and getting in to the target area against this long-range, highly discriminatory, frequency-hopping baddie will be harder and harder. It’s already beyond all but the stealth aircraft, meaning the F-22s and B-2s (and later, F-35s).
Already the B-52s and B-1s are too vulnerable for the mission. You can’t roll a cloud of carrier-based jamming across a big inland target set. F-15Es are not going to fly low-level and pop-up to release laser-guided bombs. None of the current unmanned arsenal packs the weapons or datalinks for the mission (and they aren’t survivable).
The military option is doable and Iran knows it. But it is and will be a tough target set.
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