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ISW: Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel echoes Russian military tactics used in Ukraine

Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel reflects strategies similar to Russian air assaults in Ukraine, aiming to penetrate and overwhelm advanced Western air and missile defenses through coordinated strikes, ISW says.
Israeli air defenses intercept Iranian launches on 14 April 2024. Screenshot by the Times of Israel from a Facebook video.
ISW: Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel echoes Russian military tactics used in Ukraine

Overnight on 14 April, Iran launched a massive air attack against Israel, firing 170 suicide drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari reported that Israeli air defenses successfully intercepted 99% of these, with all drones and 25 of the cruise missiles being neutralized outside Israeli airspace by Israel and its allies, as per the Times of Israel. The long-range Arrow air defense system was effective against many of the 120 ballistic missiles, although a few managed to bypass the defenses and struck the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel.

Last night’s Iranian attack on Israel featured a composition similar to that of Russian strikes on Ukraine, in which Russia has actively experimented with various combinations of ballistic and cruise missiles coupled with Iranian drones, aiming to identify the most effective package to penetrate and overcome Western air and missile defense systems, according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War.

On 13 April, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force initiated “Operation True Promise,” launching a large-scale drone and missile attack from Iran directly targeting Israel. This operation, confirmed by IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari, marked the first direct assault from Iranian territory. Hundreds of drones, including Shahed-136 attack drones, were deployed in at least three distinct waves from locations such as Kermanshah city and Dokuh in Hormozgan Province. The attack was authorized by the Iranian Supreme National Security Council and supervised by the Armed Forces General Staff.

The United States, United Kingdom, Israel, and Jordan intercepted drones and missiles outside Israeli airspace, as reported by Israeli media and several unspecified sources, as per ISW. Flight radar confirmed that airspace over Iran, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon was closed. The Iranian Permanent Mission to the United Nations stated on X (formerly Twitter) that the operation, named “True Promise,” was a response to an Israeli airstrike targeting IRGC officials in Damascus and announced the operation’s conclusion.

Russia has tested combinations of ballistic and cruise missiles together with Iranian drones in Ukraine.

“Iran’s use of drones and missiles shows how Iran is learning from the Russians to develop increasingly dangerous and effective strike packages against Israel. Iran has also used the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea to refine Iranian drone tactics by testing US Navy air defenses,” ISW notes.

The ISW says that the Iranian air attacks “provide Iran opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of different strike packages to understand how they can evade and overwhelm US air and maritime defenses more effectively.”

Meanwhile, Russia continued its Shahed attacks against Ukraine, although at a smaller scale, launching 10 Shaheds, all of which were intercepted within northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast, as reported by Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk. The night of 14 April saw multiple explosions in Kharkiv City, leading to power outages in several districts, Suspilne said.

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