Country vs country if Israel starts bombing Iran what can Iran do? Can it go toe to toe with Israel militarily? If Israel does this will they be biting off more than they can chew?
Well, you rightfully pegged it as an air war. Thats about all they can do to each other. I’d have to say that Israel would have the edge in a straight up air conflict. They have better (and more modern and well equiped) planes, better trained and motivated pilots, etc.
But it wouldn’t be a cake walk by any means. I think Israel could hurt Iran a hell of a lot more than Iran could hurt Israel…but Iran would get in its licks too. They have missiles they could launch at Israel that, while not exactly percision weapons, could probably still hit a city (ok, they are a tad bit more accurate than that :)). Of course, Israel has missile equiped subs, and missiles of its own as well.
In addition Iran’s air defense is reasonably formitable, having bought systems from China, Russia and France (IIRC)…so Israel would pay for every raid as well.
In the end though Israel would ‘win’…though as an air war it would be indecisive, simply battering Iran’s infrastructure and visible military targets, while taking some hits in return from Iranian missiles. All this of course assumes that Iran and Israel fight in a vaccume and no one else decides to toss their hat in the ring.
Well the lack of a common border makes it pretty tricky militarily So it would effectively come down to airforces and missiles. I’m sure both sides have enough to serious damage to each (including, on the Isreali side, nukes, if it came to that).
Presumably the Israelis would be confident of shooting down any aircraft the Iranians sent at them, and (given the amount of US missile tech they have) some of the missiles. On the Iranian side they presumably have the best AA equipment Russia, China, etc. have for sale, what this could do against a modern US-equipped airforce is a mute point (I’m sure if it came down to this ALOT of military equipment makers in the US and elsewhere would be taking very close interest in the result).
An air-only war would not be good for Israel. Sure, we could probably do some damage - more damage than they’ll do to us - but Iran is a much bigger country with a government that cares much less about the lives of its citizens. that’s a major advantage in this kind of war. A drawn out long-distance campaign will be good for no-one, and worse for us.
An air war between Israel and Iran will end with all of Iran’s air force a smoking ruin, with Israel losing very few assets. Israel’s air force is as good as any in the world. Iran’s is not. Numbers don’t matter - Israel will destroy aircraft in a 20-1 ratio or better.
That said, Israel doesn’t have the capability for a sustained bombing campaign of Iran - its air force is mostly defensive in nature. Neither country has the logistical capability of launching a major ground war at the other. For missiles, Iran has 300-500 intermediate range missiles that could hit Israel - mostly of the SCUD class like the ones Saddam fired at Israel. It’s not clear how effective they’d be - I’m certain Israel would survive a bombardment like that without much long-term difficulty, as long as they aren’t tipped with nukes or chemical weapons.
And of course, tipping the SCUDs with nukes, dirty bombs, or chemicals would invite a reaction in kind from Israel, and Israel could do it much more effectively.
I don’t think it would work out well for either side. Israel has a big edge in terms of quality and sophistication of weaponry. On the other hand, Iran is a huge country to hide military assets in, and Israel is tiny. It would probably settle down into a long, low-intensity war with Israel bombing anything that caught its eye, and the Iranians retaliating with the odd missile now and again and supplying materiel to proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
They would basically bleed each other white - bombs and missiles aren’t cheap nowadays, aside from the chilling effect of war on economies.