Why Israeli Air Force did well in several Middle East Wars?

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-07-26 16:26

BEIJING, July 26 (ChinaMil) -- Israel, a country with a small territory, is considered a strong military power in the Middle East.

Its Air Force, known as the "long arm of Middle East", did excellent work in several Middle East Wars, with an air battle track record that shows 60:3 in the third Middle East War, 56:1 in the fourth and 84:0 in the war against Lebanon.

The Israeli Air Force played a critical role for the country to survive in a geo-environment surrounded by unfriendly powers.

Because of its special geo-environment, losing a war may mean losing the country for Israel. In this sense, Israeli Air Force pilots not only have to carry out combats, but also shoulder the responsibility for national survival.

Therefore, pilots that are reputed as the "treasure of Israel" have to go through rigorous selection and training.

In addition to strict physical examination, the Israeli Air Force also applies the "pilot basic skill evaluation system" when selecting pilots to check the candidates' flexibility, agility and coordination, their mental quality and self-control capability in case of emergency, and other overall quality. The elimination rate in this stage is 40%-50%.

After passing the preliminary selection, the candidates have to take 15 sorties of initial flight training, and then, if they pass, a 20-month-long study in the aviation school, where they receive four stages of trainings - preparatory training, preliminary flight training, basic flight training and advanced flight training, each with the elimination rate of 10%, 40%, 7% and 3% respectively.

In the end, only about 10% of the candidates can become fighter pilots, which means an overall elimination rate of 90%, in comparison to about 25% in the U.S. Air Force aviation academies and 50% in France and Egypt.

The U.S. military once made the following comment on the quality of Israeli pilots: "They are like U.S. astronauts, and the selection criteria are unbelievably harsh."

The Israeli Air Force Combat Training Department has a combat bureau and a training bureau. Such a structure - combat and training are under unified management - is good for integrating the two.

Their tactical training and exercises are all targeted on surrounding enemy situations, namely, training as if in real combat and fight as if in training.

Israeli Air Force has built large training ranges that simulate realistic environment in the Negev Desert and on the sea.

They have different air defense simulation facilities that resemble the imaginary enemy's ground-to-air missile, air defense radar and electronic confrontation means.

A real-ammunition bombing training is held at least once a year, which requires the pilots to carry out assault against 1:1 simulated ground targets and hit them at first try.

The Israeli Air Force places special emphasis on confrontation during air combat trainings. Combatant pilots have to fly 250 hours in tactical conditions every year on average, 1.3 times as long as the flying hours of American pilots.

Israeli Air Force also encourages the pilots to be creative and initiative and use new undefined tactical movements to complete missions during the training, after which a meeting is held to review the training, where the trainees can speak their mind freely and many combat schemes they propose have been adopted in real battles.

The Training Bureau also has a "division of new training and combat approaches" that is responsible for collecting, organizing, studying and demonstrating new training and combat approaches.

Compared with the Arabian countries around, the Israeli Air Force doesn't have that many aircraft, but it believes the strength of air force depends more on the operation rate of aircraft.

Usually Israeli warplanes have over 99% "excellence rate" in comparison to about 80% in the U.S. Air Force.

In the third and fourth Middle East Wars, Israeli combat aircraft had an operation rate of 96% as opposed to 50% of the Egyptian Air Force.

According to reports by New York Times, Israeli Air Force ranked first in the world in terms of average operation rate per aircraft and average flying time per pilot.

Behind those data is the cutting-edge maintenance skills and extremely high working efficiency of the ground crew in Israeli Air Force.

By quickly refueling the returned aircraft, replenishing ammunition and checking and maintaining the equipment, it pushes the envelope on squeezing the time it takes for Israeli aircraft to take off again, thus enhancing their combat efficiency.

During combined combat drills, Israeli military aircraft take off 4-5 times per day on average, even up to 8-10 times during wartimes.

Such a performance is based on a really low man-aircraft ratio, which is 25:1, meaning an aircraft needs about 25 air/ground staff on average, which is about 1/2 as many as in the U.S. Air Force, 1/4 in France and 1/6 in Britain.

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