A year ago I wrote this:
It would be dumb for Washington to offer B-52s. But it’s unlikely the Israelis would be dumb enough to actually accept them.
And a couple weeks ago I wrote this:
Fortunately, the Israelis are much smarter than their friends in the United States. The Israeli air force has no history of flying or maintaining large strategic bombers (the last dedicated bomber operated by the IDF was the B-17, retired in the late 1950s). The learning curve to get a fleet of B-1B crews operational and effective would be steep. The larger the Bone force that the IDF would need to take on, the larger the problems it would cause for the rest of the force.
And now we have some confirmation:
“This idea is irrelevant for Israel,” a senior Israeli officer told Al-Monitor. “It is way beyond our means [and] not worth the means, money and effort. We are not capable of maintaining and sustaining it.”
Israeli military experts and former officials are equally skeptical.
They point out that Israel does not possess the heavy bombers — B-2s or B-52s — required to deliver the 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or GBU-57. And they say only one air base, Nevatim, has runways that could conceivably be upgraded to handle such flights.
Israeli experts also warn that the tiny country would have to invest a fortune in related infrastructure — simulators, training, facilities, mechanical systems and experts — to handle such weapons.
They managed to track down one former IDF chief of staff who thought it was doable (I really, really wonder if it was Dan Halutz, the Israeli air force general who planned and led the disastrous air campaign against Hezbollah), but the consensus seems best summarized as “raw idiocy.”
I don’t really blame politicians (Cardin, Booker, or even the array of GOP pols who have gotten behind this idea) for advocating stupid policy. It’s the job of a politician to manage and assuage the concerns of a variety of different constituencies, and these constituencies often demand contradictory or impossible things. Ideally, politicians would take the time to explain to these constituencies why certain proposals are asinine, but there are stark limits on how far such tactics can work in practice.
I have far more contempt for the retired military personnel, such as David Petraeus and David Deptula, who put their names on such bullshit. In brief, these retired generals are lending their names (and consequently, the weight of their experience, expertise, and knowledge) to proposals that they are obviously too smart to believe in.