USAF Providing “Options” for Dealing With Iran

While covering the Air Force Association’s big conference in Florida last week, I tweeted a comment by Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz where he said in passing that the service is watching Iran very closely. This is typical, I mean, can you tell me any time in the last decade or more that the Air Force hasn’t been watching Iran (does the RQ-170 ring a bell).

However, the general revealed a little bit more during a Capitol Hill hearing yesterday. As our buddy John Bennett reported over at the newly refurbished US News, the service has sent the President “options” on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Iran’s defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons “has the attention of the [Joint] Chiefs and other national security officials,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told reporters Wednesday. “Our obligation is to provide options” to the defense secretary and the president, Schwartz said, “and we have done that.”

¬†Now, this doesn’t mean that a strike is imminent, it’s the Air Force’s job to be monitoring geopolitical hot spots and to constantly update its plans on how it would conduct operations in them. Plus, Schwartz asked the most relevant question with regards to a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities on Wednesday; what would it really accomplish?
Meanwhile, former STRATCOM boss and vice chairman of the joint chiefs, recently retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright said last week that it will be nearly impossible to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Remember, he was in charge of the nations nukes while at STRATCOM and was the nation’s number two military officer until last summer, so he’s in a decent spot to opine on this.
What might a U.S. strike on Iran’s nuke facilities look like?
Well, it would probably be supported by a mountain of electronic warfare, likely provided by RQ-170 drones and perhaps some classified cyber weaponry designed to kill or confuse Iranian air defense command and control networks from afar. It may then turn to the Air Force’s B-2 stealth bombers, perhaps escorted by F-22 Raptors (insert faulty oxygen system joke here), carrying the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator. A bomb designed to punch through up to 30 stories of reinforced concrete.
But wait, you say, haven’t we heard reports that Iran’s facilities may be buried too deep for even the MOP to hit? Yes, we have. So, the Air Force (or perhaps the Navy using stand-off missiles like the tomahawk) could choose to demolish the entrances to the sites using a bunch heavy bombs (anything from MOPs to 5,000-pound GBU-28s to penetrate the tunnels followed by heavier bombs like the GBU-43 MOAB, a weapon¬†that has been delivered to the Middle East before, or maybe even cruise missiles); entombing the weapons labs and whomever is unlucky enough to be inside them. If we got lucky and hit an access tunnel with something as big as a MOP, the overpressure tearing tunnels caused by the bomb’s explosion might have a shot at damaging the facilities buried inside,but it might not. I any case, these entrances would have to be so thoroughly demolished that it would take a very long time to dig through the debris and access the facilities, otherwise the strikes wouldn’t achieve much.
  • freds4hb

    Any chance there’s a test article on the X-37b?

  • mpower6428

    nothing but “bomb porn” in this post. the MOAB is the kim kardashian of GBU’s.

    i have a question. seeing as nuclear detonations can be traced to their country of origin (manufacture) and if in the sci-fi world of a nuclear armed iran (somehow) striking the west with such a weapon…

    is it good enough for you to know that the people of persia will cease to exist NEXT DAY? and further… who here doesnt think they already know that…?

    the defense industry is working overtime trying too instigate a non-issue. iraq is over, take your bonuses and go home.

    • Juuso

      What makes you think that Iranians would drop a-bomb to Israel? They could have made all sort of other WMD’s what could devastate Israeli population if they wanted… but they haven’t done so.

    • Jon

      The biggest threat here is a government armed with nuclear weapons that clearly supports terrorism. Iran doesn’t have to launch the nukes, but one of their proxies can carry one into just about anywhere.

      • dddd

        Also, I think Hezbollah and Hamas would be greatly empowered with a nuclear weapon, which does not suit Iran’s interests. They want to control their proxies, not let them off the leash for to no strategic benefit.

    • tiger

      You keep on playing the Peter Paul & Mary records. Perhaps Puff the Dragon save us all.

  • Bob

    The concept of MAD only works when both parties can logically, despite any ideology, understand that if what they do to another party is bad enough they will reap the same benefit to no value to themselves.

    Even Marxist/Leninists (who purport not to believe in a God) were able to make the informed rationalized decision that the ‘juice was not going to be worth the squeeze.’

    Throw religion into the mix, particularly one that purports that when you die in the service of fighting infidels (can be translated any number of ways) you go to a greater place, the scale goes of out balance. The question you have to ask is, how hardcore, as believers of Islamic religious doctrine, are the Mullah’s in Iran?

    If one believes them to be blind adherents to the faith, then we have problems. Its not that they are going to lob one over the horizon at the USA (unless its off a freighter in the Gulf of Mexico), but they will plant one as close to downtown Tel Aviv as they can. The Israeli’s will respond in kind with their South African developed nucs and flatten Tehran and large swaths of Iran. But, if the Mullah’s (and Amadinejad is just a puppet) don’t feel like they have anything to lose it throws the whole doctrine of MAD into question. The US, particularly with Barrack Obama as the CIC, is not likely to add any of our throw weight into the fray. To what end? Over-radiate Iran and the entire Middle East and make everyone there hate us?

    The issue of the nucs, and whether we do anything about them, is more about the strategic issue of who is perceived as the center of gravity in the Middle East. The US or Iran? Right now, the shift is to Iran. We are having difficulty combating their asymmetric approach to influencing the region and fighting us via proxies. Because of our Western moral standards we are still largely bound to a set-piece, direct confrontational style of warfare (see Desert Storm). Even 9/11 did not really move us from that pathway. I am not sure anything ever will. The only proxy war the US has ever fought was in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Even then, everyone knew what was going on, it was just done under the guise of plausible deniability. It was two nation states with similar life-value view points fighting a war on a piece of ground that just happened to be called Afghanistan.

    Its the introduction of religion, just like in Afghanistan, that creates the unknown variable. So, it is an issue. Just not the issue that most people take is as on face value.

    • Steve

      Well stated, but I think the issue of who resides in the WH is irrelevant, as even if it were Darth Vader himself, our former VP Dick Chenney, would not be using US nukes in a limited action (nuke or not) between Israel and Iran. Unless the US is hit directly or possibly the Iranians nuke a US carrier group, you would not see, under any circumstances a US nuclear response.

    • Will

      A nugget of truth buried inside a mound of invalid arguments.
      1st, the “Iranians are irrational compared to the Western-like Soviets” is all too much like the “Chinese are irrational compared to the Western-like Soviets” idea that was popluar before it was replaced with the “Chinese enemy of my Soviet enemy is my friend”.
      2nd, a gratuitous swipe at a President who put troops on the ground without notice of, still officially, an ally.
      3rd, we like conventional war because we’re f—ing good at it. The Iranians remember what happened when we went to war against them in the Gulf in ’88 even if we don’t.
      4th, the citizens of Nicaragua, Angola & Serbia, at minimum, would strongly disagree with the idea that Afghanistan was the only place the USA has employed proxies. Beyond that, we tend to support the status quo so the use of proxies is by the other side.
      5th, from an Iranian POV, it’s not only us vs them, it’s the Sunni Saudis vs the Shia them, with the USA as the dog wagged by the Saudi tail. An idea supported by the history of the Gulf War.
      The real religion factor is that Iran has chosen to be an enemy of Israel for no good reason. Israel will never be their rival for leadership of the Muslim world. If anything, Israel is their natural ally against the Saudis.

    • dddd

      Definitely agree with a lot of your points, but the Iranian regime has demonstrated for many years that it can deal with its enemies. Remember that Iran and Israel had a very close relationship a few decades ago. But the general point that the more nukes there are in a region riven with religious tension, the worse, definitely holds.

    • Liam

      Bob: you hit the nail on the head…

  • ChrisCicc

    They’ll hit the entrances and they’ll hit the main facility. What one bomb cannot do two or three in sequence can. Meaning, one bomb will open up the first 100 feet, the second another hundred, the third right in to the main facility.

    • mpower6428

      you’re talking about blowing down a mountain with conventional explosives….

    • Pondering Guest

      i wonder if they can rough-hew a mine shaft this way…

    • Loadtoad

      You’re talking about consecutive miracles, to date only one aircraft with one weapon has ever attained that, the aircraft is retired/in moth balls. You will never see that kind of accracy with GPS guided weapons, GPS weapons are getting better but they rely heavy on the number of sattelites attained and you need many to increase accuracy. Laser guided can provide the accuracy, but there are no laser guidance kits for MOP, that I am aware of.

      • ChrisCicc

        You’re a decade out of date.

    • CoCowboy692000

      This is an insane conversation IMO. Has anyone really really looked at the maps? Looked at where we have our navy martialed? I do NOT favor Iran getting a nuke in any way, but this is a very bad bet for America. We can’t get there through Damascus – that’s certain. We can’t get there from Azerbajain – not really… We can’t get there from the Red Sea with any degree of ease… And we can’t get there from Afghanistan, not now… And we better not leave our 5th fleet sitting in the port at Bahrain or it’s going to look like Pearl Harbor.

      Did anyone take notice on March 1, 2012, that terrorists blew up 1 of 2 of the main pipelines that goes from that port clear across Saudi to Jidda Port and that they did it right under our stinking noses??? THAT WAS A F…..’IN MESSAGE in my humble opinion… See part 2

    • CoCowboy692000

      And Israel? Heck, they couldn’t row a boat to Iran…Nope – If we’re gonna hit Iran, I’d say we pull the 5th and 6th out of the Gulf, retip a couple of dozen ICBM’s with NON-nukes and push a few buttons… They could even use that new mach 20 bomb which would be best because it isn’t based on any kind of actual tnt… otherwise, we’re going to get a lotta people killed and spend money we don’t have. And by the way… The Emerites, Israel, Saudi, and the rest who have the most to lose, THEY CAN PAY THE MONEY NEEDED FOR THIS EXERCISE… WHY THE HECK SHOULD WE PAY?

  • Benjamin

    Everyone is talking about using bombs,why not a commando raid into the facility? If it is possible we would be able to gain a lot of valuable intel and assurances that the facility was destroyed

  • Michael

    If 1 MOP can’t penetrate deep enough, why not 3 or 4 on the same spot?

  • citanon

    A strike on Iran’s “nuclear weapons development” will last 6 month and hit everything in the chain of supporting infrastructure….. all the way back to the power stations and water treatment plants.

    It will be bad, it will be costly, it will be risky, it will be hard on the Iranian people, it will be bad for this country. Not a pretty thought However, you weigh the cost of that against a Middle East nuclear arms race and ask which one is worse? I will take the former every time. Thank you.

  • mike j

    The US Intelligence Community (CIA, DIA, State, etc.) have said more than once that the Iranian Bomb program was halted in 2003 and, best anyone can tell, has NOT been restarted.

    At the same press briefing that DT got this quote from Gen. Schwartz, he also said “Everything we have to do has to have an objective. What is the objective? Is it to eliminate it? Is it to delay? Is it to complicate? What is the national security objective?”


    • Clay

      I trust what I read in a fortune cookie as much as I trust what our “Intelligence Community” tells me.

      The “US Intelligence Community” should always end their briefings with the words “in bed”.

    • KarlW

      Very good point. If there’s no defined, achievable, and sustainable war aim one should never go to war. The Iranians will very likely rally round an (unpopular) leader, and retaliate. Besides, Iran / Persia is a very old and subtle country, well versed in realpolitik, and there’s a fierce power struggle going on behind the scenes. We’d be much better off encouraging the moderates in Iran.

  • Lance

    They’ll probably use F-15Es armed with Bunker busters. Like the bomb drawing on top though.

  • Uranium238

    If they are using Raptors as escort, it will be a turkey shoot against the IRIAF. They wouldn’t even see them coming, rather only the AMRAAMs shot from the F-22s.

  • Sam

    Why should Iran be forced to let in IAEA when Israel has denied the IAEA access for decades? Oh yea, Israel playing the victim card once again.

    Now start throwing the anti- jew comments at me. That’s what always happens when someone says something negative about Israel.

  • Clay

    They’ve been proven wrong so many times? Please mike, I can’t list them all.

    I just believe they have a inclination to, let’s say, “embellish” things.

  • Brad

    This article made me realize something.

    I always assumed an air attack on Iran would take place at night, but what if it was during the day? When all the nuclear program workers are at those sites. That could whipe out their program completley if most of them were killed. (It was the idea of trapped scientists in the collapsed tunnels that got me thinking about this)

    I wonder the cost/benefit of a daytime attack would be given that it would assuredly cost the attacker more losses.

    From some reports it looks like Israel (if they have to go it alone) is planning a limited ground operation at Fordow to destroy it since they do not have bunker busters that can go deep enough. I hope that they do not have to do that, and if they time comes, we can at least provide a few B-1/ B-2 overflights.

    Also, any drilling experts out there? The Iranians would not necessarily have to clear out the existing tunnels if they were bombed, they could just drill a new hole, I know Fordow is granite but how long would that take? Long enough to starve/ dehydrate to death? I assume airvents would prevent asfixiation but that might be possible to?

    • Hale

      Where’s our stockpiles of Sarin or VX? We should drop a bit down there just to make sure.

  • Nick

    Just put a nuke on a bunker buster and level the mountain… Most of the radiation would remain underground anyways, so wtf…. Besides, they’re bombing a nuke base, they could always say the hit a nuke reactor as a scapegoat. EMP all of Iran then bomb the shit out of em,

  • tiger

    I’m I the only who looks at that picture of the MOP falling & gets a flashback of Slim Pickens’ last ride….

  • Roger Beaman

    Novice “26 years old”: I believe we support our enemies and contradict ourselves diplomatically by giving billions to those who perpetually undermine and threaten the us. However, I do also understand some instances you must buy ours our foes. Israel is fulling capable of dealing with Iran, and rather quickly. Why would we even need involved when not needed.

  • CDS

    There’s really nothing to be surprised about, here. We have people whose job is to plan out options to go to war with various countries even if there are no tensions between us. All they did was pull a file down off the shelf.

  • Mitchell

    The best resolution to the Middle East nuke race is for the US to pre-emptively attack and destroy Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Israel – not Iran – is the major threat to world peace. Boobus-Americanus has been indoctrinated en masse to hate Muslims, Arabs and Persians. The controlled media in the US is the enemy. Iran should be and could be a major US ally if the US government would acknowledge the fact that it is Israel, in her mad quest to create the New World Order that is the cause of turmoil in the Middle East.

    • tiger

      Your opinon is duly noted. Laughable on many levels however.

    • STemplar

      Sure, our ally, right, they’ve clearly demonstrated that over the last 30 years, the hostage thingy, barracks bombing, IED support in Iraq, all misunderstandings. They really actually wanted to be our ally.

      You should probably ease up on the medical marijuana card.

    • MSgtAFret

      Put the crack pipe down and back away slowly. Icantgetajob doesn’t even like himself much less America. The boy has been eating peas with a straw too long and has oxygen deprivation. Apparently your well thought out logic shows you have had a meal or two with him. Our ally? In what world do you live? You have to be a liberal to buy in to the notion that Israel, not the Iranians are the terrorist and supporters! I supervised the dog handlers sent in to search and secure while we loaded the 244 in Beruit to give testimony to the affable persona of the Iranians. Go peddle you crap somewhere else, it won’t sell here!

    • passingby

      Israel’s nukes have come from the US and the Israeli government has more power over the US government than all the American voters combined. Heck, even the pro-Israeli lobby has more power on US foreign policies than Americans themselves.

      Yes, the mainstream media in the US is nothing more than a propaganda apparatus of the establishment. And it’s working overtime in promoting another war in the Middle East. Looks like the warmongers are winning.

  • Arrowz

    It honestly doesn’t matter how deep the nuke bunkers are if they can’t get out.

  • rrojohnso

    With the accuracy of these weapons these days, they could simply drop the big guy right on the spot, and in the amount of time it take to turn around for a second run, drop a second one in or near the same spot. If the bomb goes to the limit of it’s abilities, and explodes, it will loosen the material around it enough that even if the follow up is several feet off, it will still be able to penetrate much deeper. Just a thought… besides, we should be able to track where these tunnels are enough to know where the ‘underground hubs’ may be, and if you drop another big one on or near it, you will lock these people in, choking out their abilities to produce (let alone survive en mass).

  • Tron


  • CoCowboy692000

    Why is the admin continueing to delete my posts?

  • CoCowboy692000

    I’d like an answer from admin as to why my posts are being deleted tonight. I worked hard writing my previous post which required 2 separate postings. I didn’t break any rules I’m aware of. Please reply or email.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    nobody is talking about how Iran will strike back. Hope we got a plan for that.

  • Do we wait n’ see what Iran/Ahmadinejad does with the nuke when they get it? Or do we put them back a few years and into reality with a massive air strike? With people who rationalize everything via a 13th Century mentality, strength is the only thing they respect and respond to. The World has walked down the ‘rational talking’ road before, remember Saddam and 18 U.N. resolutions??!! Time for talk is done, over, fini. If talk meant anything to the Iranians, Hezobollah,Hamas, they would give up talking, trying to destroy Israel. They would have given up their nuclear ambitions without full compliance with the UN. They would have given up all offensive weaponry. But what have we seen??!! Only an increase in hostilities and arms build up. Time for talk is done. There needs to be a joint strike against Iran, the Saudi’s had better join in because they’ll be implicated anyway. Iran with nukes means Iran rules the Middle East, it’ll be the Persian Empire II without a doubt. Strike hard, strike continuously for a week. If any Iranian surrogates want to stick their noses into this, then they get hit hard until they surrender. They talked they want war, give them war and all the horrors of it since it seems they forgot just how horrible war is. Then, and only then, they’ll respect peace.

  • VietVet

    Does anyone out there pay attention to other countries who do possess nuclear weapons? Let’s see now: Pakistan and India-what a pair to have them. China and North Korea? Syria? Then there is Israel who will neither admit to or deny having them. What the hell is going on here? As a Vietnam veteran who watched as we ran out of there with our tails between our legs I am sick of the US sticking their nose where it has no business. Great success in Iraq and Afghanistan? I think not! From the other person who stated saying anything negative about Israel is always taken the wrong way you are right. This desire to destroy Iran is nothing more than making sure we continue to get the Jewish votes for presidential elections. If you are a Republican I would surely not admit it as this group of Republican hopefuls are the biggest bunch of idiots I have seen in my lifetime. Just what we need – another war!

  • Gary

    I sure wish people would learn to use proper grammar and punctuation. AND, proof read your comments. Half of these don’t make sense merely because I can’t make sense out of the poorly constructed sentences.

  • modula

    war lover USA, u a fooling Ur own indoctrinated citizens, “”its all about war””
    we are tired

  • What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious knowledge on
    the topic of unexpected feelings.