Israel Today newspaper has prepared a special report on the Arab armies in the Middle East; its title is telling; “Long Arm in the Region” is a reference to the Israel Defence Forces. It is claimed that the IDF is planning for a confrontation with Egypt.
The report has been prepared by the paper’s military editor, Yoav Limor and opens with the failures of the IDF in the 2006 Lebanon war. Limor notes that there is a new unit within the IDF which studies the armies of the Arab states through Israel’s military intelligence agency, Aman. This agency supplies information on the power centres in the region’s armies and their plans, as well as how to exhaust their capabilities even before a direct confrontation. In the event of war with any Arab state, the new unit is ready to present a detailed plan of attack, cutting off enemy supply routes and rendering it unable to retaliate against Israeli attacks. The IDF is supposed to be able to paralyse any Arab army within two days of the outbreak of hostilities.
Apparently, claims Israel Today, the unit was tested with Operation Pillar of Cloud/Defence against the Gaza Strip in November 2012, which followed the assassination of senior Hamas member Ahmed Al-Jaabari. The newspaper pointed out that Israel has a missile defence system which can down any aircraft flying hundreds of meters beyond its borders, in addition to smart missiles that can hit Hezbollah’s missiles in south Lebanon.
The paper added that in the event of a war with Egypt the Syrians would not be able to use Scud missiles to attack Israel on a second front because the IDF could destroy them on the ground before they have been deployed. Israel’s development of advanced tanks such as the Merkava 5 makes it more than capable of deterring any direct assault across the border. The air arm of the IDF can, notes the newspaper, transport large numbers of combat troops over long distances in the shortest possible time. It stressed that part of Israel’s strategy is to destroy enemy troops and armour before they have left their bases.
Looking at the statistics of the Egyptian armed forces, Israel Today reports that the army has 600,000 men in service at any one time, with 1 million reservists, 3,980 combat tanks and 2,760 artillery pieces. Egypt has also recently taken delivery of 20 F-18 fighter aircraft. The backbone of the Egyptian air force is made up of 220 Falcon F-16 fighters based at 17 airfields out of a total of 86 air force bases around the country. In addition, it has 40 advanced Mirage 2000 jets, 32 F-4 Phantom IIs, Mirage 5, C130 Hercules and 10 early-warning and control aircraft. The government in Cairo is looking to buy replacements for its aging MIG-21s and F-4s. America is keen to maintain Israel’s military edge in the region, claims Israel Today. That is why Washington has rejected Egyptian requests for F-15 interceptor aircraft. Egypt is, therefore, turning to Russia to buy SU-35s and MIG-29s.