Israeli Air Force (IAF) jet fighters were scrambled on 11 August when a “suspicious target” was detected by the Israeli early warning system.
This could have been considered another routine false alarm. but it is symbolic of the situation. With turmoil in Syria and “unrest” continuing in Egypt, the IAF is on the edge.
The squadrons are on the highest status of alert. The IAF is ready for a number of scenarios – a defecting Syrian pilot that will go after some Syrian army generals and decide to defect, this time to Israel, or someone that will take advantage of the chaotic situation and try to make a “solo” suicide attack using one of the Syrian air force’s old Russian-made fighter jets.
One Syrian fighter pilot has already performed such a defection flight to Jordan, and as the civil war in Syria reaches another climax each day with the “international community” paralysed, this may happen again.
The flight time from Syria to Israel is very short, and this requires very early warning and immediate reaction.
It is not the first time that changing situations in Arab countries have caused concern in Israel, but this time the accumulation of events in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran have created a situation that puts an especially heavy burden on the wings of the IAF.
The mission of keeping Israeli airspace clean of aggressors may in seconds be accompanied by another mission of a more aggressive character. This keeps the spring very taut.