Israel’s Big Bluff on Iran: You Just Have to Ignore Physics and Geography

Which though not stated so baldly is the clear conclusion of the following: Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman:
Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development.

The authors outline three different attack routes the Israelis could use, each having its own set of political and military problems, but the real missing piece is the refueling. Theoretically Israel might barely have the range to get its planes on target but not to recover them. In fact it appears that a successful raid would depend on refueling the planes on the way in and again on the way out. Which would not only require just about 2X Israel’s actual aerial refueling capacity, but would have those planes staging for hours and hours in either Turkish, U.S. controlled Iraqi, or Saudi Arabian air space. And while Turkey and the U.S. might not relish a one on one attack on the actual Israeli strike force, and perhaps Saudi Arabia wouldn’t even attempt it, it would be hard to plausibly ignore those Israeli KC-135s doing figure eights in your airspace waiting for those F-15s and F-16s on the way in AND on the way out.

And since someone is bound to bring them up, similar limits apply to an Eitan drone or Dolphin submarine led attack, Israel doesn’t have the combination of numbers, range, and deliverable payload to get the job done. Not without the active assistance of the U.S. at a minimum as to refueling and emergency air fields, but likely with actual strike assistance as well.

If any of our commenter/military aviators can point me to or supply themselves a convincing refutation of Toukan and Cordesman then I am certainly willing to reconsider, but on my reading it just can’t be done. Unless Israel bluffs the U.S. into doing it for them.