From: Above and beyond
Nice tread on Twitter on the 40th birthday of this strike:
With great usable photos, see the thread!
Here his story:
On this day, 7 June 1981, one of the most daring bombing missions in history took place. 8 Israeli Air Force F-16 bombed Iraqi nuclear reactor in al-Tuwaitha. This attack was the final blow to Sadam's nuclear program. Preparation for this Operation Opera started much earlier.
Meticulous planning and clandestine operations by Mossad that included even information exchange with Iranians resulted in precise situation analysis which helped IAF planners to use all the weaknesses that Iraqi AD had. The route through KSA was carefully chosen...
to exploits radar cover gaps in Iraqi AD culminating the precise timing when Iraqis are the most vulnerable-time for an evening meal when the radars & launchers crews are relaxed, turning off their radars. This repeating time frame became a pattern that was dully recorded.
As per some sources, on 7 June al-Tuwaitha was defended with at least 3 2K12/SA-6 batteries combined with 2 ZSU 23/4 and 2 ZSU 57/2 batteries. Considerable AD asset (brigade-size) for a small geographic location. Some Strela -2 MANPADs were also present.
During the first Iranian attack, on 30 September 1980. 1 SA-6 battery, 3 Roland SHORAD batteries, and 3-4 ZSU 23/4 and 57/2 defended the site.
After this attack, the AD was reinforced and defense in depth was established.
The brigade-size defense is optimal for the high-value site defense. AD can also count on the interceptors. However, poor planning and execution with the repeated "patterns" contributed to that formidable defense on paper was easy to catch off guard and exploit the "crack".
Not a single long-range Iraqi radar was able to pick up low flying F-16s while at the time of the attack, missile battery fire control radars 1S91 were turned off. Some ZSU-23/4 were on but that was not enough to initiate coordinated defense action.
The crews manned their combat stations when Israeli planes were on the way back home. The Iraqi AD had failed to bring down even one plane and not one MiG had been scrambled. It was a repeat of the same sorry performance against the Iranians nine months earlier.
Failure to protect the most valuable site as a consequence had the head of Iraq's Western Air Defense Zone, Colonel Fakhri Hussein Jaberall, and all officers above the rank of major executed (as per the press all battery commanders and possibly some lower ranks as well).
Among the Israeli pilots who bombed the reactor was Iftach Spector, who on 8 June 1967 while flying Mirage III, attacked USN Liberty - "the day when Israel attacked the US"... just a day short of the anniversary.
Interestingly, he was not a member of the original team but pulling his "connections" and as a base commander, he succeeded to be included. He was also the only one which 2 Mk-84 bombs missed the reactor building.
Documentary movie about the raid: