Operation Opera was an Israeli surprise air attack on June 7, 1981, which
destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor not far from Baghdad. The attack was highly risky: It was unclear whether the Israeli warplanes would have enough fuel to make it back safely to base. (They did.) Although Iraq claimed the reactor was strictly for peaceful purposes, Israel feared it would enable Saddam Hussein’s regime to develop atomic bombs.
Quote: “There was no mid-air refueling, no GPS, none of these technologies,” said Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, who was a pilot during the mission and went on to become the head of IDF intelligence. “The pilots had to really concentrate,” he said, noting that even the tiniest miscalculation could mean there was not enough fuel to return. “We flew at speeds best suited to conserving fuel and not the best speed for flying in enemy territory,” said Yadlin.”
Sources: Wikipedia, The Times of Israel
Learn more about Operation Opera on Wikipedia. >>
Read “38 years later, pilots recall how Iran inadvertently enabled Osiraq reactor raid” >>
Watch “Operation Opera — Israel’s Raid on the Iraqi Reactor 1981” [44:21]. >>
Photo: Vanity Fair