Israels Critical Security Needs
Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
- In spite of the potential for change that the pandemic creates, it seems that most players in the Middle East (who so far report limited damage) view it as just an imposed break and, right after it disappears, they intend to keep promoting their interests. The tensions between rival camps in the region and their attitude toward Israel are not expected to change.
- The most affected country in the region so far is Iran and there is the main potential for change. Many in Iran believe that the dangerous reality of corona is the result of the problematic conduct of the regime. Meanwhile, the regime tries to blame the U.S. and is presenting its support for terrorist elements as useful in the fight against corona. Thus, the Iranians showed Hizbullah members from Lebanon disinfecting the streets of Qom.
- The possibility of beginning negotiations with the U.S. on a new nuclear agreement from the point of weakness in which the regime currently finds itself is not on the agenda. Yet if it becomes clear to the regime that all other avenues of action have failed and public anger threatens to explode, it may have no choice but to consider even this possibility.
- The Palestinian issue is completely pushed aside. The focus on the U.S. peace plan is frozen. Even if there is an increase in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority stemming from a joint interest in the fight against the virus, it is doubtful if this will have any impact on Palestinian positions regarding the conflict.
- The enormous economic damage and the blow to the idea of globalization as an organizing principle of the international system may deepen the responsibility of each country to deal by itself with the virus and later with the need for economic revival, that will likely take time. The economic recession, the potential for growing tension between the U.S. and China, and the impact on the results of the U.S. elections may affect Israel’s national security interests.
- The tension between the need to invest in the military or in health to guarantee national security and the international economic crisis may put pressure on the military budget and affect its ability to implement long-term plans.
- One clear way for Israel to deal with the new and complex challenges arising in the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic is to invest in the advancement of responses to the virus and to thereby expedite its contribution as a center of scientific research to the security of the West and the U.S.
The corona epidemic is paralyzing the whole world, together with most of the Middle East. Except for Iran, where the number of those infected and dead is very high, the rest of the states in the region are reporting a relatively low number of infected and dead (these reports are not considered reliable). However, most have taken different degrees of steps to protect themselves. In those places where there is civil war (Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sinai), their attention is focused on the war and corona is secondary on their agenda.
Immediate Regional Consequences of the Coronavirus Crisis
An additional significant and direct consequence of the crisis on the region is the steep drop in oil prices and, although recovered a bit, they are still at a very low level. In relation to this, the damage to Iran is especially severe as its foreign currency reserves are lower than other oil exporters, its needs are greater, and it suffers from American sanctions which are getting harsher.
Some additional consequences worthy of note at this stage are:
- Even though at this stage the damage done to the Palestinians by the coronavirus is limited (according to official reports), the Palestinian issue has been pushed completely aside. The focus on the U.S. peace plan is frozen, both because of corona and also because of the political situation in Israel. In addition, the epidemic has forced the Palestinians to cooperate with Israel in dealing with it. A joint operations room has been established. Steps were taken to allow vital Palestinian workers, including those in construction, to continue to work in Israel and in Israeli towns in the West Bank, as the PA imposed a closure.Parallel to this, there has been a huge drop in Palestinian activity against Israel, especially from Gaza, that began with understandings that had been reached prior to the crisis, but whose implementation by Hamas now appears more likely, as long as the corona situation in Gaza does not get dire and the Qatari funds keep coming.The Palestinian Authority tried to take advantage of Israeli goodwill by requesting money being held by Israel, according to the law requiring the deduction of payments to the PA in response to its payment of salaries of terrorists. Israel responded to the request in the negative.
- Together with this, certain Palestinians are leading delegitimization campaigns against Israel. In spite of Israel looking out for the Palestinians, they are portraying Israel as if it is trying to harm them. They are spreading lies that Palestinian prisoners are being infected by or exposed to corona (even the PA has denied this as false) and are demanding their release, and spreading blood libels as if Israel and the U.S. are responsible for corona.
- In Iraq and Lebanon, corona has removed the popular protest against Iran from the main agenda, even though many believe that the spread of the disease to these states began with Iran, which didn’t take the necessary timely steps to stop the spread of the disease from the religious center of Qom, through the Revolutionary Guards, to certain Shiites from Iraq and Lebanon who are closest to Iran (though it is hard to ascertain the veracity of this claim).
- Also, international terror, which ideologically originates in the Middle East, seems to be frozen for the time being, mainly because travel limitations make it more difficult to implement terror attacks.
- Beneath the smokescreen of the epidemic, the U.S. is proceeding to implement its plans to limit its presence and the deployment of its forces in the region, especially in Iraq. Within this framework, the Americans have limited their presence on a number of bases close to the Iraq-Syria border. In general, this step could make it easier for Iran and its allies to use the Al-Qa’im-Abu Kamal border crossing for the purpose of moving troops and military materiel to Syria and to Hizbullah. Russia, which is influenced less from corona and more from the drop in oil prices as a result of a dispute with Saudi Arabia, is taking advantage of the lack of attention in order to strengthen the Assad regime at the expense of Turkey.
The Impact on Iran
Iran is the arena getting the most attention. The inability of the regime to respond effectively to the crisis has brought it to a low point in its standing at home and in the region. This comes against the background of the increasing cost of the American sanctions, the implementation of financial sanctions by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the consequences of the elimination of Quds Force commander Gen. Soleimani and the limited reaction to it, the embarrassment of the downing of the Ukrainian plane, and the memory of the November 2019 demonstrations after the increase in gas prices. As if all this was not enough, corona has infected a number of Iranian officials and has also weakened the regime’s standing.
Many in Iran believe that the dangerous reality of corona is the result of the problematic conduct of the regime (not stopping flights from China in time, not closing the educational institutions, the neglect of the health system). The regime is trying to leverage the occasion to create solidarity among the Iranian people which will enable it to moderate the criticism directed against the leadership. To do this it is striving to convince the public that it is not responsible for their distress and at the same time convince the U.S. and the international community to come to their aid. Along this line, Iran is acting in a number of directions:
- Blaming the U.S. and the sanctions against Iran. The Iranians claim that the sanctions prevent them from acquiring medications and medical equipment. The U.S. denies these false claims, but the regime continues in its efforts to sell them to the public and the international community. At the same time, Washington is offering medical help but Iran refuses to accept it.
- Presenting their investment in the strengthening of their regional standing and support for terrorist elements as useful in the fight against corona. Thus, the Iranians showed Hizbullah members from Lebanon disinfecting the streets of Qom, as directed by Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the organization. All this is in reaction to the American claim that the regime prefers to invest in helping terrorist elements instead of using its money to improve the Iranian medical system.
- Promoting actions against the U.S. in Iraq through allies there. The killing of two American soldiers and a British soldier brought about a strong American reaction against the bases of one of the pro-Iranian militias (Kataib Hezbollah), which resulted also in the killing of several Iranians.
- Turning to the International Monetary Fund to request $5 billion in aid. Reasonably, the U.S. will agree to give medical equipment and aid but not money.
- On the other hand, Iran freed an American prisoner for medical reasons and handed over a French prisoner in order to free an Iranian who was jailed in France and was going to be handed over to the U.S. This was done, of course, in the hope to prepare the ground for Washington and Paris to be willing to agree to Iran’s requests.
World Responses to Iran
So far, the U.S. has denied Iran’s requests, especially since in the meantime Iran has increased its enrichment rate of uranium beyond what is allowed according to the nuclear agreement. Moreover, Iran is not allowing the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to suspicious sites that the organization asked to check as a result of information that arose from the nuclear archives that Israel brought out of Tehran two years ago. (Moreover, the activity of the inspectors has been reduced due to the spread of corona in Iran).
In the meantime, the U.S. at this time is holding back from taking far-reaching action against Iran, particularly the option of requesting the Security Council’s implementation of the “snapback” sanctions provisions, the significance of which is the cancellation of the nuclear deal. Also, the Europeans (Britain, France and Germany), who are now busy dealing with corona, are holding back from taking measures against Iran, following their activation of the dispute resolution mechanism in the nuclear agreement after IAEA reports on Iranian actions. It seems that the U.S. is not interested in appearing like someone taking advantage of the crisis and that, from the beginning, the Europeans had no intention of pressuring Iran.
For Regional Conflicts, This Is Just a Time-Out
In any case, at this time, dealing with corona has not brought any change in the camps which make up the region and are fighting over the extent of their control and over regional hegemony. They include the radical Shiite axis led by Iran; the pragmatic Sunni camp in which Saudi Arabia plays a central role; the realistic radical Sunni camp led by Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood; and the ultra-radical Sunni camp led by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Except for the danger that the epidemic can create for the stability of the Iranian regime, it does not look like it will lead to a regional change. The potential for this happening could occur in the future if the epidemic widens and especially if some of the leaders are infected by corona (some are in the endangered group).
Moreover, all of the parties are maintaining their worldviews and are not showing any tendency to compromise in light of the epidemic and the need for everyone to fight together against the threat that nature has created. Even though in the West one hears voices like this, even if their weight is very limited, in the Middle East, against the background of the corona pandemic, there is no attempt to bring up new ideas and it is considered a period of time-out, whose extent is not known, until every party renews its striving towards its aims.
The International Impact
Unlike the Middle East, in the international arena there is a serious potential for greater change in a number of directions that may impact on Israel:
- The enormous economic damage and the blow to the idea of globalization as an organizing principle of the international system may deepen the responsibility of each country to deal by itself with the virus and later with the need for economic revival, that will likely take time.
- The crisis has highlighted the clear lack of international leadership. The UN and its institutions, and the leadership in the U.S., Russia, and China, did not even attempt to seek such a stance. The EU, as well, played no part and left each state to depend on its own resources to deal with the virus and its consequences.
- The standing of U.S. President Trump was harmed because of the complacency that he displayed at the beginning of the fight against the virus and because of the massive damage to the American economy. The presidential election, that seemed to be favoring Trump, now seems to be wide open as it appears that opposing Trump will be Joe Biden, who represents an outlook more acceptable to middle America than his opponent for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders.
- Relations between the U.S and China, which prior to the crisis were problematic but were being dealt with in the framework of commercial talks and were characterized by a degree of trust between the leaders of the two countries, have been seriously harmed and are now characterized by growing tension. This is due to a growing American feeling that the situation report that it received from China regarding the strength of the epidemic was intentionally erroneous and resulted in serious damage to Americans and to President Trump, while China is recovering before everyone else from the epidemic and is returning to normal in stages.
Possible Impact on Israel
The implications for Israel derived from the pandemic will be influenced by the continuation of the crisis, the intensity of the damage to life, and the extent of the economic damage in Israel, in the region, and in the international system, all of which are unmeasurable and unpredictable for now:
- At this point, the chances of a major change in relations between Israel and other active players in the Middle East are low. Cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus with the camp of pragmatic Sunni states may speed up the process of normalization in the future, but in the Palestinian realm, even if there is an increase in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority stemming from a joint interest in the fight against the virus, it is doubtful if this will have any impact on Palestinian positions regarding the conflict. It is likely that the Palestinians will try to take advantage of Trump’s possible difficulties to increase their efforts to remove the U.S. peace plan from the agenda.
- As long as there is no serious change in the death rate in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority, the scope of Palestinian violence and terror is not expected to change. A widespread outbreak of the virus, particularly in Gaza, and delays in the transfer of financial aid from Qatar to Gaza, could lead to the government there to seek to direct the public’s anger toward Israel and, as a result, the extent of the violence could increase.
- The Iranian regime, as noted, has reason to be seriously worried, at this point, from the implications of the virus. If they fail in their efforts to take advantage of the crisis to reduce the international pressure and to create internal public unity in support of steps to fight the coronavirus, this is likely to increase the regime’s focus on achieving the ability to produce nuclear weapons and to renew its efforts to harm the U.S. and its allies, including Israel, in order to improve the chances of the success of its policies.Evidence of this can already be seen in Iran’s increased efforts to produce enriched uranium, its increased actions against the U.S. in Iraq, and in its thwarted attempts to attack Israel from the Golan Heights using Hizbullah. Israel must continue its vigilance and preparedness in order to thwart additional attacks. If the efforts of the regime fail, it may happen that at some point public protest in Iran, which has been dampened in part by fears of contagion, may reawaken, which would result in greater danger to the regime’s stability.The possibility of beginning negotiations with the U.S. on a new nuclear agreement from the point of weakness in which the regime currently finds itself is not on the agenda. Yet if it becomes clear to the regime that all other avenues of action have failed and public anger threatens to explode, it may have no choice but to consider even this possibility.
- Harm to the core of the senior leadership could lead to instability, whose characteristics are difficult to predict at this time, in nearly all of the states in the region.
- Developments in the international order, in general, and in the U.S., in particular, may present Israel with new and more complex challenges as they deal with the virus and its aftermath. With the growing tension between China and the U.S. and fears of the weakening of Trump’s standing ahead of the November elections, if the U.S. fails in dealing successfully with the epidemic, this will require Israel to display greater sensitivity to the possible implications for international and American support for Israel. One of the clear ways to deal with these implications is for Israel to invest in the advancement of responses to the virus and to thereby expedite its contribution as a center of scientific research to the security of the West and the U.S.
- Finally, the unprecedented economic implications, and the diplomatic implications, are likely to complicate Israel’s ability to provide for the full needs of its security services. The enlistment of Israel’s security and intelligence services to assist in the national effort against the coronavirus is essential and important, and illustrates the priorities that need to be set, particularly in a country that must face continuing threats. But the coronavirus epidemic will require a long-term shifting of greater resources to the field of health. The question that arises is: What is the correct balance and what level of preparedness is necessary to deal with such epidemics?
How strong is Israels Defense?
Israel has the most technologically advanced military on Earth. Do you know why it is so? It’s because of a combination of a number of national characteristics unique to Israel.
1.) Robotic border patrols
Israel is the first country in the world using these robots to replace soldiers on missions like border patrols.The Guardium is based on a Tomcar dune-buggy-like vehicle and equipped with a range of sensors, cameras and weapons. It can be driven by a soldier sitting in a command center miles away or receive a pre-designated route for its patrol, making it completely autonomous.The increasing use of robots by the Israel Defense Forces is part of a larger strategy to minimize risk to soldiers when possible. In addition, soldiers require breaks, food and water. All a Guardium needs is a full tank of gas. Other UGVs in use by the IDF include the Segev, which is based on a Ford F-350 pickup truck.
2.) The Arrow anti-missile program
Israel is the only country in the world that has used missile defense systems in times of war. These systems do more than just save lives. They also give the country’s leadership “diplomatic maneuverability,” the opportunity to think and strategize before retaliating against rocket attacks. Israel has the Arrow, which is partially funded by the United States, to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, David’s Sling to intercept medium-range rockets and cruise missiles as well as the combat-proven Iron Dome, which has intercepted hundreds of Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in recent years.
3.) Mini spy satellites
In 1988, Israel launched its first spy satellite into space, gaining membership in the exclusive club of just eight nations with independent satellite-launching capabilities.
Israel was the first country in the world to operate drones in combat operations. Its first use of drones was in 1969, when the Israel Defense Forces flew toy airplanes with cameras glued to their bellies along the Suez Canal to spy on Egypt. In 1982, it flew its first combat drone, called Scout, in Lebanon, where they played a key role in locating and neutralizing Syrian anti-aircraft missile systems.
5.) Merkava tank: The top-secret tank
The Merkava tank is one of Israel’s most top-secret projects. It is said to be one of the most lethal and protected tanks in the world, and its construction started out of pure necessity — the United Kingdom and other countries refused to sell Israel tanks. So in the 1970s, it started to build its own.
The first thing to look at is their proximity to each other, and they are not close at all, if you look at the distance of the closest border with Iran and Israel you are still looking at around 1,789 kilometers, or a little over 1,100 miles. Thus Iran is out or range to strike at Israel with unrefueled fighters, while they do have the capability to refuel in flight, they have only 3 707-3J9C that can be used as air refueling, so the idea of trying to get to Israel, and do so without being detected is near impossible, so they would have to fight their way through.
This brings up the first huge problem, Iran to reach Israel would have to fight a vastly superior air fleet that is both technically more advanced than Iran and has numerical superiority. Most Iranian fighters are Generation 3 fighters with some early Gen 4 fighters, Israel, on the other hand, would be defending with Generation 4++ and Gen 5 fighters, the Iranians simply have no chance.
Air cover is out of the question, so are air attacks, this leaves missiles. Iran has a very large arsenal, around 100,000, but the vast majority of these are short-range missiles. The systems they have that would be needed to reach Israel would have to have a range of 1,900 KM, or further, this leaves them with their Shahab 3, the Sijjil, and the Soumar (a cruise missile that is capable of striking Israel).
Experts place the total number of these missiles at around 240; this is the maximum figure I could find, so figure on this. If Iran were to launch every one simultaneous at Israel, you have to figure on a 15 to 20% malfunction either during launch or in mid-flight, this means that Israel would be facing around 200 of these. They have plenty of Arrow 2, Arrow 3, and Arrow 4’s, along with David’s sling, Patriot Missile Batteries along with Iron Dome and Iron Beam.
Iran would then have to deal with retaliation, something they have little or no ability to stop, depending on what they fired at Israel, and if any got through, which I am sure some would, Israel would respond in kind. If any biological or chemical weapons are used, Israel will not bother with a conventional attack; they would fire back their Nuclear Tipped Jericho Missiles, wave goodbye to Qom, Mashhad, and Tehran and most of Iran’s major military bases. Iran would have to try to base their sizable missile force in Syria or Iraq to reach Israel, but Israel has satellites, if they tried, they would send in the F-35’s to destroy each missile caught trying to sneak into launching position to fire on Israel.
The same thing would happen with Iran’s military force, if they tried to bring ground forces, which while they have larger numbers of men, the armor, APC, along with the quality of forces, Israel is vastly superior to what Iran has. There is also the matter of moving a invasion size force, to move this would expose their forces to attacks from Israel while in transit, this really is not something that would leave Iran with much of a force structure in place.
The only thing I see that could be an issue is the navy, Iran has a much larger one, but their navy, for the most part, is a green water navy, other then a few larger ships, they would have an issue if they tried to approach the Israeli coast.There is also the issue of subs, Israel while they have less, what they have are far superior, so the navy is out of the question.
Now, if Iran could figure out a way to avoid detection and place much of their forces by the Israeli border, there could be an issue, but I see a snowball in hell of a chance of them doing this.
We are stuck then with a proxy war, Iran tells Hezbollah to go at it with Israel, while Israel is dealing with them Iran tries to move their forces to Israel. Israel in such a scenario would not care what international pressure is applied to them, this would be a fight for survival, they would go in and decimate Lebanon, wipe out Hezbollah, send them running, although they would face rocket fire from them, but they would move quickly to set up a buffer zone, to keep the majority of their rockets out of range of Israel. They would then try to wipe them out so they could be waiting to deal with Iran.
Once more Iran loses. Unless Iran can get the whole Arab world to unite with them, or Russia, and even then that would be questionable, I don’t see a chance of them coming out with a victory.
What was the craziest operation that the IDF ever carried out?
One of the craziest is Cherbourg Project.
Israel (The IDF) payed France for 5 ships, but then, after an ill conceived attack on the Beirut airport, Charles de Gaulle started an official Arms embargo on Israel.
Thus the 5 ships were detained in port indefinitely.
Israel really really wanted the ships. Moscow was arming the Egyptian army, and the Israelis wanted to keep up.
So – they stole the boats (which I remind you, they already payed for).
There was a minimal Israeli crew on the ships – so, the IDF sent more crew as tourists, in groups 2 – to fill up the ranks.
They filled the boats using a small 5 ton truck (they smuggled 250,000 liters of fuel aboard).
Dry supplies were purchased, in small amounts over time (again – not to arouse suspicion).
The ships were routinely operated at night for a short time (“to check the engines”), so when the time to escape came – the start of the engines wouldn’t attract attention.
Civilian ships were prepared with extra fuel, for refueling the ships once they escaped. The refueling equipment was hidden in the civilian ships.
The ships escaped on Christmas.
After about 12 hours, the French learned that the ships escaped. At first, an order to attack the ships from the air was given (the ships were unarmed), but it countermanded.
The ships finally arrived at Israel after sailing more then 5000Km.
The French of course, were furious, and it was (one) of the reasons Israel changed from French weapons and crafts (Mirage for example) to USA weapons and crafts.
The Israeli military known as the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is a unique one. From the moment of its creation, it has been involved in a never-ending conflict with its neighbors. To survive in such a situation, high-quality weapon systems are as important as well trained military personnel. Israel receives a lot of assistance from the US and Germany to build up its arsenal. But they have a very strong local defense industry as well, which makes world class weapon systems. The Israelis don’t just import stuff from US and Germany, they customize them heavily and improve them with additions of their own. This has made them a formidable military in the region which can stand up to any aggressor. In this article, I will cover the top 10 weapons used by Israel which include indigenously developed ones and imported ones. The ranking is entirely my opinion and takes into account the combat performance of the weapon systems as well.
Israel is the first nation to develop and deploy an armed unmanned boat for surveillance and protection duties. The Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle is a unique piece of equipment which allows its operator to do more with less. A manned 9 or 11 m patrol boat needs a crew of around 6 men to operate sensors, navigate and man the weapons systems. They are also vulnerable to enemy fire as these boats generally are unprotected from small arms fire and a lot of space is wasted due to food, water and other equipment carried on board. The Protector changes all that as it needs just 2 operators who control the boat from a control station safely away from the hostile area. This increases operational endurance by more than 4 times when compared to a manned boat. It carries an electro-optical sensor, radar, a Typhoon stabilized remote weapons station which can be fitted with any machine gun or grenade launcher and the space wasted on the crew is here used to carry additional fuel and sensors.
These boats are deployed around harbours to conduct surveillance, investigate and engage hostile small craft. They are especially useful in Anti-Piracy duties because its high speed of 50 kts (92 km/hr.) and a wide array of sensors help to track and chase pirate boats with greater efficiency than manned boats. Singapore has purchased the Protector and deployed them for surveillance, reconnaissance and force protection duties in the Persian Gulf. The 11 m variant can be fitted with Spike missiles and a water cannon for non-lethal engagements and firefighting. It has a twin diesel engine compared which increases its efficiency and speed. These boats will continue to be improved and a new generation of larger unmanned vessels will spawn from them.
11 m variant of Protector
Delilah Cruise Missile
This is a medium range, subsonic cruise missile of the IDF which is like a mini Tomahawk missile. It is exceptionally light and compact for a missile with a 250 km range. Its 187kg weight enables it to be launched from F-15/16 and even from the UH-60 Helicopters. The missile travels at a speed of Mach 0.3-0.7 and is accurate enough to be used to destroy enemy air defense sites with 1m error. This is due to the fact that the missile can loiter around its target and a remote navigator can use the IR and optical sensors to identify the target and strike it at the right time. Its 30 kg warhead limits its usage against smaller targets like SAM sites and moving vehicles. A ground-launched variant of this missile with the same 250 km range also exists. The lightweight nature, long range, and pinpoint accuracy make this a very dangerous weapon. You can read this article to know how cruise missile work
Tavor/ Micro-Tavor Assault Rifle
The Tavor is a futuristic looking bullpup assault rifle developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI) for the IDF. It was designed to be lighter, reliable, durable and more accurate than the M4A1 carbine which is also used by the IDF. The standard caliber was the 5.56×45 NATO round used in a 30 round magazine. It uses the suffix 21 (TAR-21) which denotes that it is an assault rifle for the 21st century. There are several variants of this rifle and the major ones are
- GTAR- The conventional variant which is longer and designed to accommodate a 40 mm UBGL
- MTAR- The Micro variant which is extremely compact and designed for special forces
- STAR- The Marksman variant with a bipod and 4x magnification ACOG sight
All the assault rifle are fitted with a reflex sight which provides a clear red aiming point. These rifles have seen extensive combat with the IDF infantry units and with the Indian Army commandos who use it as their standard assault rifle. India also uses the MTAR-21 which they manufacture under the name Zittara and use it with the 5.56×30 mm cartridge. IDF uses the MTAR-21 with the 5.56×45 or 9 mm pistol rounds. It is said that it has exceptional combat performance in hot desert climates.
Merkava 3/4 MBT
The Merkava tanks were designed in the early 1980s to create a tank to suit specific Israeli requirements and make them self-sufficient in making tanks. The design evolved over the years and the Merkava 3 and 4 are the best variants. The latest variant is the Merkava 4 which features several improvements over its predecessors. The Mk4 features a 120 mm smoothbore gun which has a unique capability that other western tanks lack, the ability to fire an Anti-Tank missile ‘Lahat’ from the gun. This gives it a standoff engagement capability and allows it to destroy enemy tanks from far off distances.
This tank has a heavy secondary armament consisting of 1×12.7 mm machine gun, 2×7.62 mm machine guns, 60 mm mortar and 12 smoke grenades. This kind of armament is useful in urban warfare where multiple machine guns and the mortar are necessary to engage infantry and concealed threats. A combination of 48 shells and missiles are carried in the tank. The other significant feature of this tank is the ‘Trophy’ Active Protection System which ca intercept incoming projectiles like Anti-Tank shells and missiles using a network of tiny radars and hardkill projectile dispensers. This feature is the primary layer of defense and the secondary passive defense is provided by the thick armor of the tank.
ATMOS 2000 Howitzer
The Advanced Truck Mounted howitzer System (ATMOS) is the latest self-propelled artillery weapon which is going to be fielded by the IDF artillery corps. It is a 155 mm 52 caliber (52×155 mm barrel length) system which is mounted on a 6×6 truck which gives it excellent mobility. This advanced system has a crew of just 4 men which is possible due to the high degree of automation and the extensive use of computers. The exact firing solution can be calculated by a touchscreen computer and then the 4 men manually load the shell into the gun to fire it. It integrates data from aerial assets like UAVs in order to give precision support fire to troops. It carries 32 rounds of 155 mm shells on board and can fire them at the rate of 4-9 rounds per minute depending on necessity and crew reloading capacity. It is said that this system can be transported by the C-130 which can enable rapid deployment to hostile areas.
Israel is a very tiny country, but needs long range aircraft to penetrate deep into enemy territory to obtain air superiority and carry out strikes in case of a conflict as the F-16 Sufa is not ideal for such operations and will be in charge of homeland defense. The F-15C fighters were first obtained in 1978 .In 1998, Israel obtained 25 examples of the strike variant, designated as the F-15I Ra’am. These extremely capable multirole fighters have been customized by Israel using their own equipment. It has the ability to carry American and Israeli missiles and features an enhanced countermeasures and jamming system compared to the American variant F-15E. It also had the standard conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) which gave it the ability to carry additional fuel without sacrificing weapon carrying stations.
The main reason these F-15I’s were procured was to give Israel the ability to strike targets deep inside countries like Iran without conducting half a dozen mid-air refuelings. The F-15I has enough fuel to carry a significant weapon load and strike targets inside Iran with just a single mid-air refueling. In a strike configuration, it is capable of carrying GPS ,Laser guided bombs, Glide bombs, Popeye and Delilah cruise missiles along with Jamming pods and Air to Air missiles for self-defense. In the future, the F-15I will be complemented by the F-35I to make a formidable ground attack combination.
Arrow 3 ABM
There are several systems designed to intercept ballistic missiles. But the least known and probably the most powerful is the Arrow 3 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system. This missile was developed to be more effective than the famous American MIM-104 Patriot ABM system. The Arrow is extremely vital for Israel’s survival as it protects them from the range of ballistic missiles possessed by its hostile neighbors. It is integrated with the ‘Green Pine’ radar to provide target information. The Green Pine has a search and track range of around 400 km which can easily cover the whole of Israel.
The Arrow 3 can intercept a ballistic missile at altitudes of over 100km and a battery of these missiles is said to be capable of intercepting 5 ballistic missiles in 30 seconds. Improvements over the Arrow 2 include a smaller size and 40% reduction in weight. It is expected that the first Arrow 3 battery of 24 missiles would be deployed by 2015. There are indications that this system can be used as an Anti-Satellite system similar to the US SM-3 missile.
Barak 8 SAM
This missile is the result of an Indo-Israeli joint venture to develop a next generation Surface to Air missile to equip their Navy and Air Force. It is a medium range SAM which is mainly designed for intercepting supersonic cruise missiles. It has a dual pulse rocket motor which ensures that the missile is traveling at Mach 2+ even at its last stages. The active homing radar seeker eliminates the need for constant illumination from land/ship based radars and thereby allows for quicker reactions and makes jamming it very difficult.
The Naval variant is fired from an 8 cell vertical launch module and is normally used in conjunction with the MF-STAR radar. India has adopted this missile as the standard SAM for all their warships from 2015. Israel is refitting this missile on their existing warships. Extended range variants of this missile exist. It uses an additional booster to increase the missile range from 70 to 120 km. This ER missile will be used by the Indian Air Force and in the future by the Indian Navy as well.
Sa’ar 5 corvette
Israel has a small coastline, but it has a lot of valuable oil wells and other assets which it needs to defend. Its neighbours are acquiring powerful anti-ship missiles and submarines. The Sa’ar 5 is a multi-role corvette which is designed to carry out Anti-Submarine, Anti-Surface, and Anti-Air warfare with equal ease. The best part of this ship is that it displaces around 1100 tons but has the firepower of a 4000-ton frigate. The latest upgrade includes the MF-STAR radar and the armament list includes
- 1 Phalanx CIWS
- 3×2 324 mm torpedo tubes
- 8 Harpoon Anti-Ship missiles
- 16 Barak-8 SAM
- 32 Barak-1 SAM
The unique feature is that it is the smallest warship in the world to be fitted with a 4 Panel AESA radar. The MF-STAR can search, track targets and guide up to 16 Barak-8 SAMs simultaneously to intercept them. This gives the Sa’ar 5, an ability to defend itself against any aerial threat. And this ship holds the unique distinction of being the most heavily armed ship in the world if you consider the Weapons-Displacement ratio of the vessel. The another feature is that this ship can operate easily in the littorals and blue water as well and attack and defend itself from any threat it faces. *cough*LCS*cough*(looks like someone needs to borrow a few pointers from this ship).
The most famous weapon of the IDF which has very frequently been in the news is the Iron Dome interceptor system. This is a C-RAM (Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar) missile system which uses the Tamir interceptor missile to carry out its duty. The reason that it is number 1 on this list is that this system is essential for protecting Israel from the smallest threats (rockets, artillery shells, mortars) which are targeted at civilians and it has successfully done its job over the past few years and remains the most combat proven modern air defense system in the world. The Tamir missile has a range of 70 km and is specifically designed to destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells.
A unique ability of the system is that it detects a set of incoming threats and then intercepts only those rockets which are going to impact on civilian populated areas. This saves a lot of money (each interceptor missile costs 50,000$) and time as usually only 10% of the unguided rockets manage to hit their targets. The Iron Dome targets only those 10% and the remaining 90% of the rockets which fall harmlessly over the open ground are left alone. Each launcher truck holds 20 missiles and a battery usually consists of 3 launch trucks, radars and a missile control unit. All these are mobile and can be quickly deployed to an area of conflict. Israel claims a successful interception rate of 87% by the Iron Dome system. This system will be supplemented by the ‘Iron Beam’ laser system and ‘David’s Sling’ missile system by 2018 in order to provide 100% coverage against any sort of aerial rocket and artillery attack.