The downing of an Israeli F16 warplane on Feb. 10, 2018, by a Syrian antiaircraft missile first deployed by Russia almost 40 years ago surprised and saddened Israel. The Israeli fighter jet was returning from bombing an Iranian control center in Syria which had launched a drone over Israel. Both pilots were wounded. Antiaircraft missiles can be fired into Israeli airspace by Israel’s hostile neighbors. The loss of the F16 demonstrates the vulnerability of Israeli fighter crews sent on combat missions.
Perhaps Israel can decrease the risk to its fighter pilots by relying on cruise missiles instead of piloted aircraft to destroy enemy targets heavily defended by antiaircraft missiles. The most capable cruise missile is the U.S. Tomahawk which can be launched from a ship or submarine to accurately strike targets with minimal collateral damage. However, Israel’s request to buy Tomahawks to outfit its pocket submarine fleet was denied several years ago. Israel already markets its own cruise missiles which can be launched from the air. Hopefully, the Israelis are busy developing their own submarine launched cruise missile.