Remember the EP-3 spy plane incident with China? That is the time I got to debate Richard Perle on Crossfire about U.S.-China relations. We were spying on China from the air, testing their radar systems as well — something all major nations do.
But while spying, and testing of defense systems, is a normal, humdrum fact of a world with too many military systems aimed at each other — testing a potential foe’s systems very aggressively can trigger war quickly.
Apparently, Hersh’s story on our preparation for war with Iran is dead on target. Speaking of targets, the USAF is aggressively testing Iran’s air defense capabilities in a “dangerous game of cat and mouse” according to this UPI story.
Here are the first grafs:
The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran’s ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said.
“We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them,” said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq and are part of Bush administration attempts collect badly needed intelligence on Iran’s possible nuclear weapons development sites, these sources said, speaking on condition of strict anonymity.
“These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed, they’re being ‘templated,'” an administration official said, explaining that the flights are part of a U.S. effort to develop “an electronic order of battle for Iran” in case of actual conflict.
In the event of an actual clash, Iran’s air defense radars would be targeted for destruction by air-fired U.S. anti-radiation or ARM missiles, he said.

I’m off to Montreal to hear what the Canadians think of the military exploits of its big neighbor to the south.
— Steve Clemons