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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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International

US sends staggering amount of firepower to help Israel

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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The United States said it wants to prevent the war in Gaza from spiraling into a greater, regional conflict. To achieve this mission, the U.S. government sent a staggering amount of firepower to the Middle East. There are near daily weapons shipments to Israel, and there are enough U.S. Navy and Air Force assets in the region to target the whole of Iran.

The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is in the Mediterranean, sailing off the coast of Cyprus. In addition to all the fighter jets on board the Ford, there are several destroyers in its strike group that carry Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting targets in western Iran, Syria and Iraq.

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To target central and eastern Iran, the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG) sailed to the Arabian Sea. It’s now about 150 miles off the coast of southern Iran. The IKECSG also counts destroyers and missile cruisers among its ranks. The attack submarine USS Florida — which carries 154 Tomahawks of its own — is sailing with Ike’s CSG as well.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is in the Red Sea, where it has intercepted several drones and cruise missiles fired at Israel by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

On top of that, the United States Air Force has two B-1B Lancers in the region. The strategic supersonic bombers can carry more armaments than any other U.S. bomber: 34 tons worth of weapons in its belly and another 22 tons under its wings. Lancers are nuclear capable, but most of the time they’re armed with conventional weapons like guided bombs or cruise missiles.

The Pentagon said there were at least 55 attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East since Oct 17. The attacks didn’t do a lot of damage, and only minor injuries were reported. However, if Iran and its proxy terrorist groups try to expand the war in Gaza into a wider conflict the Lancers, carrier strike groups and Marine Expeditionary Unit will be able to unleash a deluge of destruction on Iran.

The fighting in Gaza is ongoing and could last for months. To help its strongest ally in the region, the U.S. is also sending weapons and ammo directly to Israel.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in October that shipments were going out on a near daily basis.

“Every day is a little bit different, obviously, based on the needs of the Israelis,” Kirby said. “And we’re being careful not to quantify or get into too much detail about what they’re getting — for their own operational security purposes, of course. But that security assistance continues to flow.”

Kirby didn’t go into detail as to why U.S. aid shipments to Israel are more secretive than aid shipments to Ukraine, where almost everything is publicly disclosed, down to the last round of ammo.

However, a list of recently supplied weapons to Israel did make its way to the public domain. Weapons that will no doubt assist the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in taking out Hamas terrorists in or under Gaza.

The U.S. sent Israel almost 60,000 155 mm artillery shells and hundreds of mortar rounds. For the IDF’s Apache attack helicopters, the U.S. gave Israel 2,000 Hellfire missiles and plenty of 30 mm chain gun ammunition.

Night vision devices, tactical vehicles and interceptors for the Iron Dome were also included in aid shipments, as well as M141 Bunker Defeat Munitions (BDM).

The BDM is a disposable, single-shot launcher. It has a limited range and fires an unguided 83 mm rocket.

As the name implies, Bunker Defeat Munitions are meant to be used against fortified positions like bunkers and berms. They’re also good at punching holes through buildings and blowing up weapons caches. After the 9/11 terror attacks, U.S. forces used BDMs in Afghanistan to collapse caves used by Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists.

Given the close-quarters, urban combat taking place in Gaza and the hundreds of miles of tunnels underneath, BDMs will likely be in heavy use in the days, weeks or months ahead.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]

THE UNITED STATES SAYS IT WANTS TO PREVENT THE WAR IN GAZA FROM SPIRALING INTO A GREATER, REGIONAL CONFLICT. TO ACHIEVE THIS MISSION, THE US GOVERNMENT SENT A STAGGERING AMOUNT OF FIREPOWER TO THE MIDDLE EAST. THERE ARE NEAR DAILY WEAPONS SHIPMENTS TO ISRAEL, AND THERE ARE ENOUGH U.S. NAVY AND AIR FORCE ASSETS IN THE REGION TO TARGET THE WHOLE OF IRAN.

LET’S START THERE. THE USS GERALD R. FORD CARRIER STRIKE GROUP IS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, SAILING OFF THE COAST OF CYPRUS. IN ADDITION TO ALL THE FIGHTER JETS ON BOARD THE FORD, THERE ARE SEVERAL DESTROYERS IN ITS STRIKE GROUP THAT CARRY TOMAHAWK CRUISE MISSILES CAPABLE OF HITTING TARGETS IN WESTERN IRAN, SYRIA, AND IRAQ.

TO TARGET CENTRAL AND EASTERN IRAN, THE USS EISENHOWER CARRIER STRIKE GROUP SAILED TO THE ARABIAN SEA. IT’S NOW ABOUT 150 MILES OR SO OFF THE COAST OF SOUTHERN IRAN. THE IKE CSG ALSO COUNTS DESTROYERS AND MISSILE CRUISERS AMONG ITS RANKS. THE ATTACK SUBMARINE USS FLORIDA, WHICH CARRIES 154 TOMAHAWKS OF ITS OWN, IS ALSO SAILING WITH THE IKE CSG.

THE 26TH MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT IS IN THE RED SEA AS WELL, WHERE IT’S INTERCEPTED SEVERAL DRONES AND CRUISE MISSILES FIRED AT ISRAEL BY HOUTHI REBELS IN YEMEN.

AND IF ALL THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH, THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE HAS TWO B-1B LANCERS IN THE REGION. THE STRATEGIC SUPERSONIC BOMBERS CAN CARRY MORE ARMAMENTS THAN ANY OTHER U.S. BOMBER: 34 TONS WORTH OF BOMBS AND MISSILES IN ITS BELLY AND ANOTHER 22 TONS UNDER ITS WINGS. LANCERS ARE NUCLEAR CAPABLE, BUT MOST OF THE TIME THEY’RE ARMED WITH CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS LIKE GUIDED BOMBS OR CRUISE MISSILES.

IF IRAN AND ITS PROXY TERRORIST GROUPS TRY TO EXPAND THE WAR IN GAZA INTO A WIDER CONFLICT THE LANCERS, CARRIER STRIKE GROUPS AND MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT WILL BE ABLE TO UNLEASH A DELUGE OF DESTRUCTION ON IRAN.

BUT THE FIGHTING IN GAZA IS ONGOING AND COULD LAST FOR MONTHS. TO HELP ITS STRONGEST ALLY IN THE REGION, THE U.S. IS ALSO SENDING WEAPONS AND AMMO DIRECTLY TO ISRAEL.

NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY SAID IN OCTOBER THE SHIPMENTS WERE GOING OUT ON A NEAR DAILY BASIS

[John Kirby] Every day is a little bit different, obviously, based on the needs of the Israelis. And we’re being careful not to quantify or get into too much detail about what they’re getting – for their own operational security purposes, of course. But that security assistance continues to flow.

[RYAN ROBERTSON]

MR. KIRBY DIDN’T GO INTO DETAIL WHY U.S. AID SHIPMENTS TO ISRAEL ARE MORE SECRETIVE THAN AID SHIPMENTS TO UKRAINE WHERE ALMOST EVERYTHING IS PUBLICLY DISCLOSED, DOWN TO THE LAST ROUND OF AMMO.

BUT A LIST OF RECENTLY SUPPLIED WEAPONS TO ISRAEL DID MAKE ITS WAY TO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. WEAPONS THAT WILL NO DOUBT ASSIST THE IDF IN TAKING OUT HAMAS TERRORISTS IN GAZA. OR UNDER GAZA.

THE U.S. SENT ISRAEL ALMOST 60,000 155MM ARTILLERY SHELLS AND HUNDREDS OF MORTAR ROUNDS. FOR THE IDF’S APACHE ATTACK HELICOPTERS, THE U.S. GAVE ISRAEL 2,000 HELLFIRE MISSILES AND PLENTY OF 30MM CHAIN GUN AMMUNITION.

NIGHT VISION DEVICES, TACTICAL VEHICLES AND INTERCEPTORS FOR THE IRON DOME WERE ALSO INCLUDED IN AID SHIPMENTS, BUT IT’S THE DONATED M141 BUNKER DEFEAT MUNITIONS THAT CAUGHT MY EYE.

THE BDM IS A DISPOSABLE, SINGLE-SHOT LAUNCHER. IT HAS A LIMITED RANGE AND FIRES AN UNGUIDED 83MM ROCKET. BUT DON’T BE FOOLED. IT PACKS A PUNCH.

AS THE NAME IMPLIES, BUNKER DEFEAT MUNITIONS ARE MEANT TO BE USED AGAINST FORTIFIED POSITIONS LIKE BUNKERS AND BERMS. THEY’RE ALSO GOOD AT PUNCHING HOLES THROUGH BUILDINGS AND BLOWING UP WEAPONS CACHES. AFTER THE 9/11 TERROR ATTACKS, U.S. FORCES USED BDMs IN AFGHANISTAN TO COLLAPSE CAVES USED BY TALIBAN AND AL QAEDA TERRORISTS.

GIVEN THE CLOSE-QUARTERS, URBAN COMBAT TAKING PLACE IN GAZA AND THE HUNDREDS OF MILES OF TUNNELS UNDERNEATH, BDMs WILL LIKELY BE IN HEAVY USE IN THE DAYS, WEEKS, OR MONTHS AHEAD.