The Iranian Revenge Attack on U.S. Forces in Iraq

(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Uzi Rubin - Five days after the Americans killed Qasem Soleimani, Tehran fired ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq. From the incomplete information available, Iran's missiles were highly accurate but unreliable, with more than half failing to hit any target. The missiles that did hit caused significant damage, however, as well as the near loss of a squadron of U.S. Predator UAVs. The absence of U.S. deaths was explained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Air Force commander as a consequence of prudent targeting. However, available information indicates that it was more a matter of sheer luck. The Iranians were willing to face the consequences of killing U.S. troops and had accordingly put all their military forces on full alert - an alert that resulted in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger airliner. Lessons for Israel include: first, that Iran's regime is willing to take extraordinary risks when it feels humiliated; second, that in certain scenarios precision missiles can be as effective as combat aircraft; third, that even a few precision missiles can disrupt the operation of modern air bases. The writer, founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program, is a senior research associate at the BESA Center.

2020-02-20 00:00:00

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