According to the Israel Air Force chief, the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014. In a single day, Israeli planes can strike thousands of terror targets and exceed the IDF’s achievements during extended operations.
Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, Commander of the Israel Air Force, spoke last week at the Tenth Annual Conference for National Security on the contribution of air power to Israel’s strategic capabilities. Maj. Gen. Eshel discussed the air force’s attack and defensive capabilities during times of war and routine operations.
“I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States – from both an offensive and defensive standpoint,” the IAF commander said, referring to a significant leap in capabilities over the past two years. The commander based his assessment on an evaluation of IDF abilities and conversations with officials from foreign militaries.
“We have an unprecedented offensive capability, which allows us to accurately strike thousands of targets in one day. We have doubled our abilities twice in the past two years. By the end of 2014, we will see an improvement of 400 percent to our offensive capabilities relative to the recent past, as a result of a long improvement process.”
To illustrate Israel’s advancements, the IAF Commander compared the air force’s new efficacy to other achievements in recent years. “The air force at the end of 2014, in less than 24 hours, can do what it did in three days during the Second Lebanon War, and can do in 12 hours what it did in a week during Operation Pillar of Defense.”
Maj. Gen. Eshel stated that “Israel can not afford lengthy attacks. We need to win quickly. A short time, in my opinion, is a few days. I do not believe in conducting long wars.”
The air force chief argued that accurate and quality firepower is the main variable in achieving victory. To do so, he said, “It’s not enough to have just technical ability – we need to adopt an approach. We’re talking about an operation with full power, all of the air force, all encompassing, from the opening of the offensive effort in order to strike as powerfully as possible and shorten the war.”
“We can destroy the military capabilities and infrastructure that support the activities of Hezbollah on a scale that would require decades to rebuild. [We could achieve] a direct hit on the terror organization and all that supports it on an unimaginable scale,” the IAF commander said.
“Unfortunately Hezbollah took its assets and moved them into the cities,” he added. Hezbollah terrorists position themselves deep within urban areas, where they use homes and civilians as shields against Israeli counterattacks. In recent years, they have also mastered the technique of disappearing underground.
“This is a very significant challenge because we do not want to hurt innocent bystanders. We’ve more than once that houses that are inhabited by citizens will be harmed…These are military targets that support their war effort.”
In the face of these challenges, the IDF uses precision strikes to eliminate terror targets – a method which also prevents operations from spiraling into wars. “What characterizes [our] air power is our ability to control its impact, and this is very important during incidents of combat between wars,” Maj. Gen. Eshel explained. “Everything is flexible and subject to change. This is the advantage of the air force: the ability to take the hammer that was made for wars and use it in a more limited capacity.”