Tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran are, today, at the heart of the structural instability of the Middle Eastern theater. These are notably the result of recurring clashes between the Israeli armed forces and Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as those with Iranian militias in Syria. In recent years, however, these tensions have experienced a very significant hardening, around the programs of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and long-range drones developed by the Iranian defense industry, giving its armies effective strike capabilities against the Israeli territory and in particular its critical infrastructure. Above all, the progress recorded by the Iranian nuclear program is now at the heart of the immediate concerns of Jerusalem, which estimates that Tehran would be only a few months away from having enough refined fissible material to build its first nuclear bomb.
In fact, for more than two years now, the air forces have been training to carry out long-range raids , so as to be able, if necessary, to strike nuclear infrastructures and missile sites in Iran. For this, the Israeli Air Force has acquired two squadrons of F-35i stealth fighters, an order for 50 aircraft, a version derived from the Lockheed-Martin F-35A fighter equipped with Israeli systems, in addition to the 25 F-15i, 50 F-15A/B/C/D and 6 squadrons of F-16 C/i. Faced with the growing Iranian threat, Jerusalem announced, in 2020, its intention to order a new squadron of F-35i, but also a squadron of new F-15s , the first being in charge of eliminating defenses anti-aircraft, the latter to destroy infrastructure and cover Lighting against enemy fighters, if necessary. Due to the political instability of the country, only the order for 25 F-35i was actually formalized. The increasingly blatant rapprochement between Tehran and Moscow, around the conflict in Ukraine, and its consequences on the acquisitions of Russian weapons by Iran, seem to have convinced Jerusalem, which would have formalized, in recent days, the order of 25 F-15EX from Boeing , as well as the conversion of its F-15i to this standard (apart from electric flight controls).
Indeed, beyond the upcoming arrival of 24 to 30 Su-35s in Iran , recent statements by the Russian ambassador to Iran seem to indicate that Tehran could also receive other systems from Moscow. weapons, in particular S-400 anti-aircraft systems. The Israeli Air Force is familiar with this system, in service in Syria to protect Russian infrastructure, and knows how to evaluate its performance. If such systems were to be deployed in Iran, alongside Su-35s fighters which are much more efficient than the fighters in service with the Iranian air forces, the constraints applied to a possible bombing fleet, and especially to support aircraft such as the tankers and early air warning planes supposed to accompany them, would in fact be much more important. It is in this context that the F-35i and F-15EX pairing would take on its full meaning.
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