The Islamic State of Iran was born in enmity toward the United States. Led by the fiery cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, revolutionary leaders animated crows in Iran by lambasting “Great Satan” for any number of crimes, both real and imagined.
It didn’t take long for this animosity to turn kinetic. As the Iran-Iraq War intensified throughout 1984, the two combatants began targeting each other’s oil shipments as a way to gain military advantage. According to Global Security, “Seventy-one merchant ships were attacked in 1984 alone, compared with forty-eight in the first three years of the [Iran-Iraq] war.”
This drew the ire of global powers, none more so than the United States, who sent in a naval task force to escort oil tankers and merchant ships through the Persian Gulf. This led the U.S. and Iran to exchange fire on a number of occasions. Not surprisingly, the U.S. came out on top in most of these exchanges.
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This helped cement the United States as public enemy number one in the minds of many Iranian leaders, including those in the military. Since that time, Iran has sought to develop asymmetric military capabilities to offset America’s insurmountable conventional superiority. Five U.S. weapons should be foremost in their minds.
When Iranian aircraft began targeting U.S. drones conducting surveillance over Iran in 2013, Washington responding by providing the UAVs with High Value Air Asset Escorts. These escorts often took the form of the F-22 Raptor.
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And for good reason, as Iran’s American-made F-4 Phantom fighters are no match for the U.S. fifth generation fighter. In fact, the F-22 pilots frequently toyed with their Iranian counterparts. As the Air Force Chief of Staff explained of one incident :
He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home.’
In the event of an armed conflict with Iran, the single-seat, twin-engine F-22 would be integral in the opening minutes as the U.S. sought to gain air superiority over Iranian skies. Fortunately, this is the exact type of mission for which the F-22 was built. Iran’s military would have little effective recourse against the F-22.
After helping the U.S. gain air superiority, the F-22 could be put to use for any number of different missions, including attacking ground targets, electronic warfare and collecting signals intelligence. It’s no wonder that when tensions heat up with Iran, the U.S. deploys additional F-22s to air bases in the Persian Gulf.
B-2 Stealth Bomber:
No threat from Iran terrifies the United States more than its burgeoning nuclear program. It is for this reason that every American president has said that when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program, all options remain on the table.
Should the U.S. have to resort to the military option against Iran’s nuclear program, the B-2 stealth bomber would figure prominently in the operations. One of Iran’s best defenses is its massive and unforgiving geography . The country is three times larger than Iraq and roughly equivalent to the size of all of Western Europe. Most of its major nuclear facilities , as well as some of its important military sites, are located deep inside the country. Some of these are also located near important cities, such as the Fordow nuclear enrichment plant that is located near the important religious city of Qom.
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This is what makes the B-2 stealth bomber so key to any American attack on Iran’s nuclear program. As Northrop Grumman, who makes the plane, explains, the B-2 is “a key component of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal, and one of the most survivable aircraft in the world.” Not only can it penetrate heavily defended areas, and elude sophisticated anti-air defense systems, but it boasts incredible range with the ability to fly “6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling.”
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The B-2 stealth bomber can also carry an extensive payload, and deliver precision strikes, both of which would be necessary to ensure the U.S. destroyed the nuclear facilities in as few waves of attacks as possible. As Northrup again explains, each B-2 can “carry more than 20 tons of conventional and nuclear ordnance and deliver it precisely under any weather conditions.”
GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator:
The B-2 bomber is also crucial to a U.S. strike against Iran’s nuclear program in another regard. Namely, it is the only aircraft capable of carrying the Air Force’s GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator.