Israel says an after-action review of its air combat operations during its recent battle with Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip showed a high level of precision and, for once, no blue-on-blue incident.
The IAF relied for 80% of its attacks on precision weapons, which is up from 36% PGM use two years earlier when Israel was battling Hezbollah in Lebanon. The IAF says 99% of its aerial attacks precisely hit their target. More than 2,000 bombs and missiles were used.
There’s no independent verification of the data. Nevertheless, the numbers are impressive, but also come with a political draw back as Israel deals with accusations it deliberately targeted civilians during the Gaza operation. Saying air strikes were 99% successful means it will be hard to argue an incident of civilians being hit from the air was due to an errant weapon.
The lack of friendly fire incidents is the first for a major IDF operation, the Israel military says, noting that a lot of the weapons firing took place in close proximity to ground forces and in a challenging urban setting.
During the campaign, there was some questions being raised why Hamas was able to continue firing rockets into Israel despite the attacks. The IDF argues the number of rockets launched, by its count 650, was lower than expected at the outset of the so called Operation Cast Lead.
The IDF also reprises some after-action information it had previously released. For instance, the fact that each brigade was provided unmanned aircraft support, with UAV operators placed in forward command posts.
The IDF says it also applied a new operational command system for aviation assets during for the Gaza campaign. “For the first time aircraft were controlled by the brigade commanders in their area of operation. The final permission for every aerial attack was given by the brigade commander or his representative,” the IDF says in a release.
But IAF officials aren’t ready to subordinate the air force to ground commanders long term. IAF insist that during a large scale war “it will be impossible to assign a personal aircraft soldier to each force, and IAF squadrons will not be able to operate exclusively with one force or another, but will have to move between the forces.”