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The Military Balance in the Middle East Ė  Part III

August 18, 1998

by Anthony H. Cordesman

Director, CSIS Middle East Dynamic Net Assessment Project


Comparative Arab-Israeli Military Spending


Trends in Arab-Israeli Military Spending: 1985-1995:

Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, "World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1995," Washington, GPO, 1996, Table I.


IISS Estimate of Military Spending and Manpower Trends: 1985-1995

($US are in Constant 1995 prices)

Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from International Institute for Strategic Studies, Military Balance, 1996-1997, London, IISS/Oxford, 1996.


Arab-Israeli Arms Transfers

Only Israel and Egypt approach the levels necessary to recapitalize and modernize their forces:

Israel is still unable to fund full modernization of armored mobility and naval modernization

Egypt overfunds weapons at the expense of other aspects of military technology; preserves far too much obsolete Soviet-bloc and low grade European weaponry.

Syria is crippling itself by maintaining large force size and funding 5-10% of the level of arms imports needed for modernization and recapitalization

Jordan has made some compromises by withdrawing equipment from active service, but its air force and much of its land-based air defense system is obsolescent, and it cannot fund army modernization.

Lebanon is funding more of an internal security force than a real army. It has no meaningful air and naval equipment and no plans to fund them.

No state has succeeded in creating a viable military industry, although Egypt can produce small arms and some heavy weapons, and Israelís problem is over-capacity, not quality and efficiency in meeting internal needs.

Arms transfer data exaggerates the size of Egyptian imports relative to Israel because Israelís imports of the components for its arms industry are not counted as arms. Israel actually has larger military imports than Egypt.


Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1997, GPO, Washington, 1997.


Arab-Israeli Arms Imports as a Percent of Total Imports: 1984-1995


Total Arab-Israeli Forces

There is no easy way to count force numbers: Greater Arab world counts seem meaningless even to Israel, except as a way of justifying aid

  • Egypt and Jordan seem committed to the peace process. They retain significant war fighting capability against Israel, but no longer train, deploy, and create support structures tailored to such operations.
  • Syria must be counted as the key component in an "Arab-Israeli balance.
  • Lebanon is not a real military force in the sense of meaningful capability for joint, armored, or combined arms warfare.

Mass does tell, however, and the Arab states retain a major cumulative numerical advantage.


Forces in the Arab-Israeli "Ring" States in 1998 -Part One


Forces of the Arab-Israeli "Ring" States in 1998 -Part Two

Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from data provided by US experts, and the IISS, Military Balance


Comparative Estimates of Military Manpower


Arab-Israeli Manpower

Manpower numbers have little military meaning in todayís world:

  • Training quality and experience are far more important than numbers.
  • The intangible aspects of NCO, technician, and junior officer quality dominate the ability use modern combat equipment effectively.

The value of conscript forces is increasingly uncertain, even when properly funded and trained.

  • Too little experience, training, and cohesion within the period of conscription.
  • Egypt and Syria grossly underfund conscript training.

Most reserve manpower has little value due to a lack of training, modern equipment, sustainability, and adequate C4I/BM capability.

  • Even the Israeli reserve system is under acute strain to main a capability for advanced maneuver warfare.
  • Most Arab reserve manpower has low value.

Nations cannot afford to use their total manpower pool because they cannot fund suitable equipment, training, and sustainability.

Internal security and low intensity operations degrade other aspects of military capability and present a serious problem for Israel, Egypt, and Syria.


Arab-Israeli Military Demographics and Forces in 1996/1997


MILITARY FORCES (Total Active Equipment Inventory, including some items in storage)

Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman, CIA World Factbook, 1996 and IISS, Military Balance, 1996-1997.


Arab-Israeli Land Forces

Arab manpower problems as especially acute in land forces.

  • NCO and technical training lack priority and funding.
  • Junior officers are not given sufficient initiative.
  • Conscript manpower often is not taken seriously or given minimal funding and training.
  • Pay rates are not competitive.

Israeli, however, has growing morale and training problems.

Equipment quality increasingly is as important as quantity, but there is no easy way to reflect such differences in force counts.

  • Quality does offset much of the tank and artillery balance.
  • Syria has superior quality in other armored fighting vehicles.
  • Israel and Egypt now have to only modern air and land-based air defense forces.

Mass does tell, however, and the Arab states retain a major cumulative numerical advantage.


Arab-Israeli Air and Air Defense Forces

  • Israel is the only Middle Eastern state to fund the mix of training, technology, readiness, C4I/BM/AEW/EW capability, and sustainability necessary to exploit the revolution in military affairs.
  • Israel now have the most advanced mix of land-based air and ATBM defenses in the region.
  • Egypt has many of the elements of a modern air force but lacks overall force quality and cohesion and emphasizes aircraft numbers over balanced force quality.
  • Egyptís land-based air defenses have weak C4I/BM capability and mix 78 modern I Hawk launchers with 282 SA-2, 212 SA-3, and 56 SA-6 launchers supplied before 1975.
  • Jordanís air force will remain obsolete until its F-16s are fully in service.
  • Jordanís "fixed" I Hawk units actually have some mobility, and its C4I/BM system has some modernization, but the overall system is weak.
  • Syriaís air force is obsolete in concept, organization, training and equipment. It has only a token strength of first-generation export versions of the MiG-29 and Su-24 and proficiency training is poor. It has not modernized attack helicopter training while Israel not uses modern tailored tactics.
  • Syriaís land-based air defense systems are obsolete in terms of deployment C4I/BM, and most fire units.


High Quality Operational Arab-Israeli Combat Aircraft - 1998

Advanced Modern Combat Aircraft: F-4E, Phantom 2000, Mirage F-2000, F-15, F-16, Su-24, MiG-29

Electronic Warfare and Intelligence Aircraft - 1998


High Quality Operational Arab-Israeli Combat Aircraft - 1998

Advanced Modern Combat Aircraft: F-4E, Phantom 2000, Mirage F-2000, F-15, F-16, Su-24, MiG-29

Source: Adapted from the IISS, Military Balance, various years. Some data adjusted or estimated by the author.


Electronic Warfare and Intelligence Aircraft - 1998


High Quality Operational Arab-Israeli Attack and Armed Helicopters - 1998

High Quality Attack and Armed Helicopters: Hughes 500MD, AH-1, AH-64, Mi-24, SA-342 with HOT/25 mm guns

Source: Adapted from the IISS, Military Balance, various years. Some data adjusted or estimated by the author.


Arab-Israeli Land-Based Air Defense Systems in 1998

Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from the IISS, Military Balance,. Light SAMs and AA guns Weapons below line for Egypt, and Israel are weapons operated by air force.


Arab-Israeli Naval Forces

  • It is unclear the balance really matters. Most key combat issues will be decided by air-land combat.
  • Naval forces are most important in limited power projection and sea control operations.
  • Egypt is the only regional power seeking to create a major naval forces.
  • Israel is probably still strong enough to dominate its waters and those of Lebanon and Syria.
  • Key issues like relative skill in surface-to-surface missile warfare may be dominated by airborne systems; air power may be the real key to naval power.
  • Submarines seem more prestige toys than real war fighting capabilities.
  • Mine warfare presents a major threat in some scenarios; Real-world mine detection and sweeping capabilities may be low.


Arab-Israeli Total Naval Combat Ships by Category

Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from material provided by US experts and the IISS, Military Balance.


The Arab-Israeli Military Balance, the "Revolution in Military Affairs,"

and Israelís Qualitative Edge


Qualitative Advantages in Exploiting Advanced Technology, Joint Warfare, Advanced Training Systems, C 4 I/Battle Management, and the "Revolution in Military Affairs"

  • Professional military forces - Unity of command
  • Combined operations, combined arms, and the "AirLand Battle"
  • Emphasis on maneuver
  • Emphasis on strategic/tactical innovation
  • Realistic combat training and use of technology and simulation
  • Emphasis on forward leadership and delegation.
  • Heavy reliance on well trained NCOs and enlisted personnel.
  • High degree of overall readiness.
  • Technological superiority in many critical areas of weaponry; superior access to resupply
  • "24 hour war" - Superior night, all-weather, and beyond visual range warfare
  • Near real-time integration of C 4 I/BM/T/BDA
  • Integration of space warfare
  • New tempo of operations
  • New levels of sustainability
  • Exploitation of beyond visual range air combat, air defense suppression, air base attacks, and airborne C 4 I/BM.
  • Focused and effective interdiction bombing
  • Expansion of the battle field: "Deep Strike"
  • Integration of precision-guided weapons into tactics and force structures


Political/ Strategic Advantages Reinforcing in Israeli "Edge"

  • US aid, transfers of arms and technology, and resupply.
  • Lack of any outside "patron" to provide major aid and arms transfers to Syria
  • Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian peace process
  • Egyptian commitment to peace
  • Gulf hostility to Palestinians as a result of Gulf War
  • Nuclear monopoly; long-range missile capability


Political/ Strategic Weaknesses in Arab Military Forces

  • End of Cold War, lack of FSU support and aid.
  • Continuing political divisions within Arab world.
  • Egyptís commitment to peace process, divided front.
  • Egyptian reliance on US aid.
  • Jordanís severe economic problems, and lack of military modernization and investment.
  • Lack of recent investment in new arms, critical new military technologies for Syria.
  • Lebanonís long-standing military weakness.
  • Iraqís defeat in Gulf War, impact of six years of no military resupply and efforts of UNSCOM and IAEA
  • Lack of any meaningful commitment by other Arab powers.
  • Political leadership in most confrontation states that has highly politicized military forces; undercut much of the military effort to modernize and create professional military forces.


Qualitative Weaknesses in Arab Military Forces

  • Over-centralization and politisation of the command structure
  • Lack of strategic assessment capability
  • Weaknesses in battle management, command, control, communications, intelligence, targeting, and battle damage assessment
  • Lack of standardization and interoperability.
  • Lack of cohesive force structure and quality
  • Inadequate emphasis on combined (joint) operations, combined arms, and the AirLand Battle
  • Poor manpower quality and career development
  • Failure to properly train leadership and allow it initiative.
  • Lack of strong NCO, technician cadres
  • Weak combat training; failure to create aggressor squadrons and conduct realistic large-scale exercises.
  • Slow tempo of operations
  • Lack of adequate sustainability, recovery, and repair; failure to create realistic standards of readiness and methods of achieving them.
  • Inability to fight modern night and all-weather warfare
  • Shallow defensive and offensive battlefield
  • Misuse and maldeployment of reserves
  • Small unit-oriented, static infantry operations
  • Limited ability to exploit rough terrain warfare
  • Static pre-planned armored operations; technical limitations in armor, fire control, long-range engagement capability, night warfare.
  • Slow, area-fire oriented artillery operations. Lack of mobility and effective BVR targeting systems. Over-emphasis on area fire versus precision fire.
  • Inability to prevent Israeli air superiority; lack of key aspects of modern air combat technology.
  • Problems in air-to-air combat training and endurance
  • Problems in integrating land-based air defense; poor overall technology.
  • Lack of effective survivable long range strike systems
  • Insufficient conventional air and missile power to conduct intensive interdiction and strategic bombing,


Israeli Force Developments and the Uncertainties in Israelís Qualitative Edge

Force Trends in Israel - Part One

* Includes all types of other armed vehicles except tanks and self-propelled artillery
* Includes all medium and heavy self-propelled and towed weapons.


Force Trends in Israel - Part Two

Source:Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from data provided by US experts, and the IISS, Military Balance


Israeli Major Military Equipment in 1998

Land Forces

Air Forces

Naval Forces


Equipment Strengths and Weaknesses in Israeli Forces


  • 1,200 upgraded M-60s, 1,000+ Merkavas
  • 5,900 relatively modern APCs/OAFVs, although no advanced types
  • Relatively modern artillery, good strength of MRLs.
  • Good anti-tank weapons.
  • Relatively modern missile frigates.
  • 63+ F-15s, 205+ F-16s, 50+ F-4E 200s, 4 E-2Cs, refueling tanks, electronic warfare capability.
  • BVR and stand-off attack capability.
  • 42 AH-64As, 39 AH-1s, 35 500D attack helicopters.
  • 3 Patriot and 17 I-Hawk batteries.
  • Arrow program


  • 1,080 Centurions, 370 Soviet conversions, 500 M-48A5s
  • 3,500+ obsolete, worn half-tracks and old APCs.
  • Helicopter strength at about 60% of goal.
  • 20 Kfir C-7, 25 F-4Es, %0 A-4N with 150 in storage, 14 RF-4Es and 2 Kfir Rs
  • Poor SHORAD strength and equipment types.
  • Arrow program
  • Small Navy, limited ASW/mine warfare capability.


Israel: Weapons Acquisitions, Military Overview


  • US pledged last October to give Israel $50 million in excess military equipment. This included a platoon command post for the Hawk air defense system, about 500 Chaparral guided missiles and about 36 M48A3 Chaparral missile launchers.
  • Under a military cooperation agreement with Turkey, the IAF is allowed to fly four training missions in Turkish air space every year. Gives pilots the opportunity to fly over terrain unknown to them.
  • Last year the IDF decided to integrate Women's Corps officers and non-commissioned officers into the military infrastructure below the regional command and some divisional levels. Seven women are believed to be enrolled in the IAF's pilot course.

Land Forces

  • Israel's latest production of the Merkava Mk 3 main battle tank shows a number of improvements in its armor, fire control system, and tracking system.
  • The IDF has acquired 37 M-1000 heavy equipment transports (HETs) as part of an $11.2 million contract. The M-1000 semi-trailer carries up to 80 tons and is towed by the MAN tractor.
  • Scheduled to receive from Loral Vought Systems 42 MLRS launchers by May 1998 and 1500 tactical rockets by September 1998.
  • Israel has reportedly developed an advanced new generation anti-armor weapon, believed to be codenamed Spike. It has fire-and-forget capability and can be fire non-line of sight using a fiber optic data link.
  • The IDF has awarded El-Op a contract to develop a battle-management system known as the Combat Vehicle Integration System (CVIS) to improve the situational awareness of its field operations.

Air Forces

  • The IAF is interested in acquiring the US F-22 prospective joint strike fighter and RAH-66 Comanche attack helicopter as future replacements for its F-15, F-16, and AH-1S combat aircraft. Tendency will be to upgrade with new radar (latest version of the EL/M-2032 radar), computer navigation systems, and other avionics before acquiring new aircraft.
  • The IAF has received two F-15I long range strike aircraft from McDonnell Douglas, with 23 more due by the end of 1998 as part of a $2 billion deal signed in 1994. At the same time it will also start taking delivery of 15 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 34 helicopter engines.
  • IAF is considering purchase of F-16, F/A-18, F-15s to continue modernization and possible phase out of remaining 90 A-4s. Possible decision in 1998. Needs new trainers after 2000.
  • The IDF has begun the process of renewing its UAV systems with the purchase of the Silver Arrow Hermes 450S. It has an endurance of about 20 hours and a ceiling of about 20,000 feet.
  • Recent US aircraft donations have included 24 AH-64A Apaches; 10 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; and 25 ex-US Army AH-1E Cobra Attack helicopters.
  • Intends to purchase another 60 AIM-120 AMRAAMs later this year for delivery by mid-1998. Finalized in April an order of 11 AMRAAMs.
  • IAF will upgrade 30 Sikorsky CH-53D helicopters to the CH-53 Yasur 2000 standard. Upgrade program gives the CH-53s improved flight and navigation systems.
  • IAF interested in acquiring the latest AH-64D Longbow radar equipped version of the Apache.
  • Reportedly has equipped some or all of its 24C-130E/H Hercules aircraft with a defensive aid system comprising elements from the Elisra SPS-65 combined radar/laser warning equipment plus an active radar jammer.

Naval Forces

  • Four AS 656SA Panther helicopters will begin replacing Dolphin helicopters this year. There will be an increased number of sea-based landing pads due to the acquisition of three US built Eilat-class Sa'ar-5 Corvette class missile boats. Up to 11 of upgraded Sa'ar 4.5 type mini-corvettes are being introduced into service.
  • Three Dolphin class diesel-electric submarines are being built for Israel in Germany. All three are to be delivered by the end of 1999. These will replace the Gal class submarines.
  • The Barak sea-based antimissile missile system is scheduled this year for deployment, depending on available funding, on all Sa'ar-5 missile boats.
  • Israel has started sea trials of a submarine that can launch commando swimmers while still submerged.

Source: Various media reports.


Israeli Forces Strengths

  • Exploitation of "revolution in military affairs": Modern C 4 I/BM, beyond visual range, night combat, and high intensity warfare capabilities.
  • One of the most effective reserve systems in the world; the only reserve forces in the middle east capable of immediate, high quality combat operations after call-up.
  • Excellent combined arms and joint warfare capability.
  • Modern land-air battle tactics and "system of systems."
  • Realistic high quality training at unit and force-wide levels.
  • Excellent leadership, only middle eastern state except Jordan with high quality NCO corps and technicians; effective manpower and career management.
  • Short lines of communication, excellent infrastructure.
  • Core strength of 1200 M-60s and 1000 Merkavas: Over 50% of tank force.
  • Highly mechanized force with some 6,000 relatively modern APCs and 400 modernized armored reconnaissance vehicles.
  • Largely self-propelled artillery force (over 75%) with excellent battle management, fire control, and targeting support.
  • New roads and security systems allow to isolate Palestinians.
  • High technology air force with excellent AEW/EW, BVR, stand-off attack, and long range targeting capability.
  • Core strength of 205 F-16 and 65 F-15C/D fighters.
  • Tanker capability for in-flight refueling, long range missions.
  • Modern attack helicopter force with 39 AH-1F and 42 AH-64; modern helicopter tactics and training.
  • Exploitation of modern UAV, ELINT, and reconnaissance capabilities
  • Fully modern land-based air defenses with Patriot, Improved Hawk, and modern C 4 I/BM system.
  • Balanced force posture emphasizing readiness, sustainability, recovery and repair as well as equipment numbers and modernization.
  • Modern naval anti-ship missiles, EW capability, and sensors. Maritime reconnaissance capabilities.
  • Monopoly of nuclear weapons.
  • Modern, efficient defense industries.
  • US military assistance, resupply capabilities, and power projection capabilities.

Israeli Forces Weaknesses

  • Cuts in military spending affect readiness.
  • Decline in active and reserve training standards.
  • Need to train for both modern warfare and control of Gaza and West Bank, waste of assets protecting small settlements and enclaves.
  • Dependence on warning to mobilize; vulnerability of reserve assembly centers.
  • Risk of multi-front war, or mix of regular war and struggle with Palestinians.
  • Acute sensitivity to casualties.
  • Vulnerability to surprise and saturation by massive armored force on limited front or sudden raid.
  • Vulnerability of key cities.
  • Reliance on 1,080 Centurions, 500 M-48A5s, 150 Magach 7, 300 Ti-67, and 70 T-62 tanks: 2,100 out of 4,300 tanks are not first line and at least 25% are obsolete or obsolescent.
  • Very limited numbers of armored fighting vehicles (400). No highly advanced types.
  • Reliance on some 3,500 obsolete armored half tracks and OAFVs.
  • Large part of former air force strength is obsolescent. 20 Kfirs active and 120 in storage; 50 A-4Ns active and 130 in storage.
  • Limited naval forces, lack of Red Sea capabilities.
  • Vulnerability to chemical and biological warfare.
  • Lack of grand strategic vision; sensitivity to Arab reactions.


Israel: Missile and Anti Missile Developments

  • The Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile project, largely supported with US funding, continues into its fourth development phase. Intercept testing for the Arrow 2 missile has begun. The Arrow is scheduled for completion in 1999.
  • The Rafael Moab missile forms part of the Israeli Boost-phase Intercept System. This is intended to engage TBMs soon after launch, using weapons fired from a UAV. Moab would be placed on the Rafael Python 4 air-to-air missile. Range is stated as 80-100km depending on altitude of release.
  • In 1995 work began on an updated version of the Jericho 2 that would stretch its range to 2,000 km. Israel is also seeking technology to improve its accuracy, particularly with gyroscopes for the inertial guidance system and associated systems software.
  • In a joint project with the USA, Israel designed the Nautilus laser system, initially for rocket defense. The Nautilus was supposed to eventually be deployed in the north to counter Hezbollah rocket attacks. In February 1996 it destroyed a 122 mm Katyusha rocket in-flight during a test at White Sands. Because of the success of the prototype, it has developed into the Theater High Energy Laser (THEL) program. Currently the project is on hold because of lack of funds to move the project forward. If funds become available, THEL could be ready for service as soon as 1998.

Source: Various media reports


Potential Qualitative Weaknesses in Israeli Forces

  • Cost of sustaining large military effort, maintaining forces and presence
  • Small size and lack of strategic depth.
  • Uncertain future of dependence on conscription and mass mobilization
  • Steadily rising real cost of weapons and technology
  • Difficulty in responding to sudden massive transfers of advanced weapons and technology to Arab opponent.
  • Lack of force size to respond to multi-front war.
  • Rising demands for training and professionalism inherent in advanced weapons and technology
  • Many qualitative advantages do not apply to low intensity warfare:
  • Proxy war in Lebanon,
  • Intifada II/Northern Ireland,
  • Mass Palestinian support of terrorism/unconventional warfare
  • Lack of comparative advantage in urban and built-up area warfare
  • Loss of some of comparative advantage in mountain warfare.
  • Vulnerability to hostage taking/suicide bombing
  • Vulnerability to massive Syrian surprise/sudden attack
  • Inability to use force to respond to some "battles of intimidation"
  • Possible vulnerability to water/ecological and environmental warfare
  • Weapons of mass destruction and inherent vulnerability of Israel
  • Uncertain value of missile defenses; vulnerability to unconventional means of delivery
  • High risk investment in Arrow/ATBM defense


Political/ Strategic Weaknesses in Israeli Forces

  • Dependence on world opinion/media image for much of national status and depth of US support.
  • Israeli extremism and internal divisions
  • Uncertain future of Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian peace process.
  • Limited ability to take Israeli casualties
  • Inflicting casualties in terms of media and Israeli popular reaction
  • Limited ability to inflict collateral damage
  • Proxy war in Lebanon
  • Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian efforts to proliferate
  • Egyptís commitment to peace process, sudden recreation of "second front."
  • Political inability to apply decisive force in political battles of intimidation
  • Lack of allies other than US in cooperative/Coalition warfare
  • Problems in exploiting Israelís nuclear capabilities
  • Dependence on US aid which is diminishing in real terms because of inflation and rising real cost of advanced military technology
  • Waste and inefficiency because of politisation and over-subsidy of military industries.


Israeli Concerns Over Israelís Military Edge: Views Expressed in Interviews with General Itzchak Mordechai (MOD), Lt. General Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (COS) and Rear Admiral Micha Ram (Former Commander of the Navy)


  • "Peace with contingency plans:" Can never ignore Egyptian "front," but can never discuss it or publicly plan for it.
  • Risk of break down of peace process; radicalization of Egypt.
  • Parity in many aspects of equipment, particularly tanks, AFVs, and aircraft.
  • Growing understanding of C4I/BM, erosion of Israeli edge.
  • Potential problem of Patriot/SA-10 upgrade of air defenses.
  • E-2C, electronic warfare, F-16, BVR missile air defenses.
  • Knowledge of US methods and tactics, experience gained in training with US forces.
  • Lessons of Gulf War.
  • Ability to use commercial satellite technology.

Hezbollah/Proxy War in Lebanon

  • Improved ordnance and technology. ATGMs, SHORADs, long-range rockets, mines, night vision, radio control. Added Iranian shipments and Syrian support.
  • Loss of edge in LIC. Near parity in casualties, with far more sensitivity to losses on Israeli side.
  • Uncertain ability to cost-effectively deter/retaliate for attacks on Israel if withdraw from security zone.
  • Corruption and uncertain loyalty of much of SLA.
  • Uncertain future of Syria: "Fourth front" under Syrian control?


  • No Dongs, refueling, attacks on Israel
  • Nuclear "time window"
  • Support of Hezbollah/PIJ
  • Ability to use commercial satellite technology.
  • Targeting and strike challenge posed to IDF for preemption and retaliation


  • Example can strike Israel with missiles
  • Retention of WMD capabilities, future break out
  • Retention of missiles and long-range strike aircraft
  • Break down in peace process, rapprochement with Syria and/or Jordan
  • Ability to use commercial satellite technology.
  • Targeting and strike challenge posed to IDF for preemption and retaliation


  • Break down of peace process; Palestinian despair
  • Problems in obtaining adequate manpower intake and retention: 1/3 no longer serve as conscripts. 15% get early out.
  • Growing manpower costs.
  • Caserne mentality, lack of aggressive edge. Conscripts compete to serve in rear areas, near home, not in prestige combat units.
  • Bureaucratic problems: Colonels up by 17%, Brigadier Generals by 60%, Generals as a whole by 41%. High salaries and retirement bonuses for officers (Colonel earns $5,900 a month. Retirement bonus of $282,200 for Colonel as early as age 42.)
  • Loss readiness due to funding issues. Deadlined aircraft and armor, stockpiles down. Mordechai has publicly said it would cost $667 million in FY1998 to restore the IDF to proper readiness.
  • Time problems grow in relying on mobilization and this creates windows of vulnerability.
  • Shahak has warned of sharp decline in reserve training activity; loss of combat experienced cadres; poor reserve exercise performance and adaptation to new technology/C4I/BM systems,
  • Sensitivity to casualties.
  • "Whoís a Jew" divisions within Israel affecting military; Rabbis who interfere in operations dealing with settlements.
  • Last war was 1973 (1982). Loss of generations with combat experience.
  • Inadequate military spending.
  • Inability to fund "necessary" upgrades of OAFVs/APCs and helicopter force.
  • Loss of edge in stand-off attack capability, targeting, and electronic warfare?
  • What comes after E-2C, current ECM/recce aircraft/RPVs?
  • Underfunding of Navy, new for added ASW capability
  • Shift of resources to security missions; Morale problems in dealing with Palestinians.
  • Vulnerability to attacks with WMD, particularly terrorism.
  • Hobsonís TABM: Cost of having Arrow/Risk of not having Arrow.
  • Lag in Satellite program
  • Uncertain future of defense industry; political interference in IDF force plans to serve needs of industry.


  • Break down in peace process, rapprochement with Egypt, Syria and/Iraq
  • Uncertain political future: After King Hussein?
  • Role in "new Intifada."
  • Spoiler or added front role, particularly as gets new US equipment.


  • Minor "Spoiler" role

New Intifada

  • Jibril
  • Rapid recruiting and training of suicide bombers.
  • Hamas/PIJ
  • Palestinian Authority security forces turn on Israel
  • Trying to enforce isolation of Palestinian

North Korea

  • No Dong missile


  • Strategic shift away from peace process?
  • Proxy war in Lebanon
  • Shift of land forces to aid in sudden attack on Golan/Mt. Hermon-- "four hours from the border." Shift of 14th Special Forces Division from Lebanon to Golan similar to steps taken in 1973.
  • Build-up of armored forces (1,500 T-72s), risk of surprise attack, "Golan grab."
  • Air force minor threat, but major improvement to SAM defenses could affect balance.
  • Purchase of new missile craft and 27 naval attack helicopters.
  • Scud Cs, No Dongs?
  • VX gas
  • Chemically armed missiles: Volley fire against key Israeli targets?
  • IDF estimate of at least 80 SSM launchers, many mobile and/or sheltered, and more than 1,000 missiles by 2000.
  • Biological weapons?
  • Ability to use commercial satellite technology.
  • Targeting and strike challenge posed to IDF for preemption and retaliation in dealing with SSM/WMD threat.


  • Potential sale of advanced aircraft, refueling capabilities, AWACS.
  • Potential SA-10 system sale.
  • Security of nuclear materials.

Saudi Arabia

  • Purchase of submarines
  • Qualitative parity in air with Tornadoes, F-15I, US support and training. Long-range strike and AWACS/BVR capability.
  • Patriot air defense system


  • Potential transfer of AMRAAM to Arab country.


  • Uncertain future of 6th Fleet
  • Decline in US defense investment, rate of modernization and innovation contributing to Israelís edge.
  • Constant rises in real price of US weapons and military equipment.
  • Sales and technology transfer to Arab states; transfer of training, joint operations, C4I/BM capabilities.
  • Aid forever?
  • Role in nuclear Middle East?
  • Future size of power projection forces and resupply capabilities?
  • Fights over possible Israeli compromise of US Patriot and F-16 technology.
  • Arms control initiatives in terms of NPT, MTCR, CWC, BWC that challenge Israelís nuclear edge without limiting Iran, Syria, etc.



Lebanon, the Hezbollah, and the "Proxy War" in Lebanon


Status of Lebanese Regular Military in 1998

Lebanese army is fragmented along sectarian lines and has been largely confined to an internal security role with the support of 25,000-35,000 Syrian troops.

Heavily influenced by Syria. Syrian military intelligence is believed to have many active agents in Lebanese forces and Lebanese military intelligence.

Total strength of roughly 55,100

Army has 53,300actives authorized. Has 11 infantry brigades, 1 Presidential Guard Brigade, 1 commando/ranger regiment, 3 special forces regiments, 2 artillery regiments, and 1 air assault regiment.

Equipment readiness and sustainability is improving, but is still poor. Standardization and spare parts situation very poor.

  • MBTs: 110 M-48A1/A5, 205 T-54/T-55.

  • OAFVs: 35 AMX-13s, 40 Saladin, 5 Ferret, 80 AML-90, 30 Staghound,

  • APCs: 725 M-113s, 20 Saracen, 30 VAB-VCI, 30 VAB-VTT, 75 AMX-VCI, 15 Panhard M3/VTT.

  • Towed Artillery: 15 M-101A & 10 M-102 105mm; 30 M-1938, 10 D-30 122mm; 25 M-46, 130mm; 15 M-114A1, 35 M-198.

  • MRLs: 5 BM-11 and 25 BM-21 122mm.

  • Mortars: 150 81mm; 130 120mm.

  • Anti-tank Weapons: ENTAC, Milan, and 20 BGM-71 TOW ATGMs; RPG-7s, M-65 89mm rocket launchers; M-40A1 106mm recoilless rifles.

Air Force has some 800 actives. Has no real fixed wing combat capability. Limited fair-weather helicopter capability with limited survivability, firepower, and tactical skill.

  • Fighters: 3 obsolete Hunter F-70 and FGA-70A.

  • Attack Helicopters: 4 SA-342 with AS-11 and AS-12 air-t-surface anti-armor missiles.

  • Other Helicopters: 16 UH-1H, 4 AB-212, 16 AB-205, 4 SA-300, 2 SA-318, 2 SA-319.

  • Training Aircraft: 3 CM-170, 3 Bulldog

  • Transports: 1 Dove, 1 Turbo-Commander 690A.

Navy has some 1,000 personnel. Is largely ineffective except in light patrol role against smugglers and guerrillas. Bases at Juniye, Beirut, Tripoli.

  • Combat Ships: 5 UK-made Attacker in-shore patrol craft; 2 UK-made Tracker in-shore patrol craft; 27 armed boats.

  • Amphibious: 2 Sour-class LCTs, capable of carrying 33 troops each.

Ministry of Interior security force has 13,000 men. Includes Beirut and regional Gendarmerie and Judicial Police. Equipped with small arms, automatic weapons, and 30 Chamite APCs.

Customs: Equipped with 2 Tracker and 5 Aztec in-shore patrol craft.


Lebanese Force Developments

  • Syriaís forces in Lebanon are reported to have been reduced from 35,000 to 25,000 men in 1997-1998.

  • The Lebanese military now numbers 65,000 according to Lebanese officials, with 40,000 regulars and 25,000 conscripts.

  • Lebanon has asked the US for 500 more used M-113 APCs and for additional communications equipment to enable units to respond more quickly.

  • Lebanon bought 16 ex-US Army Bell UH-1 helicopters from the United States in 1995. 16 more were expected by early 1996. Lebanon asked the US for more UH-1s in 1998.

  • Since 1993 the US has provided its armed forces with $80 million in non-lethal military aid. Lebanon has expressed interest in purchasing armored personnel carriers, attack helicopters, communication systems, P-3 Orion naval reconnaissance aircraft and American training for officers.


Force Trends in Lebanon - Part One


Force Trends in Lebanon -Part Two

Source: Adapted by Anthony H. Cordesman from data provided by US experts, and the IISS, Military Balance


Lebanese Major Military Equipment in 1998

Land Forces

Air Forces

Naval Forces


Lebanese Arms Agreements and Deliveries By Major Supplier: 1987-1996*

*Source: Richard F. Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to the Developing Nations, Congressional Research Service, various editions.

Hezbollah Flag

Developments in Hezbollah Military Forces in Lebanon in 1998

  • Roughly 3,000 men, heavily dependent on part-time and irregular forces. Many are now highly experienced, often well educated forces.

  • Composed of a core of just 300 to 500 guerrillas. Has deliberately cut its force over the past years to prevent infiltration and leaks.

  • Hezbollah fighters are old by comparison to Israeli fighters. Any age up to 35, usually married, often university students or professional men.

  • Roughly 150 Iranian Revolutionary Guards as advisors. Heavily supplied and financed by Iran, but Syrian personnel seem to be involved in training and in coordinating with Iran. Iranian and Syrian coordination of support for military supply and possibly operations of Hezbollah seems to occur at the general officer, deputy minister level.

  • Iran has been flying three 747 cargo jets monthly to Hezbollah via Syria in an effort to upgrade their arms capabilities. Weapons include the Russian made Sagger and Strella antitank missiles. Iran's military camps in Lebanon appear to be offering training on the more advanced systems.

  • Conflicting intelligence reports estimate Iranian aid to Hezbollah to be between 65 and 100 million dollars a year.

  • Forces carry out an average of two operations a day against the SLA and Israeli forces. Some missions involve long range shelling while others have included sophisticated roadside bombings and commando missions involving 40 well-trained guerrillas operating as a team.

  • Equipped with APCs, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, mortars, anti-tank guided missiles (including AT-3s), recoilless rifles, SA-7s, anti-aircraft guns.

  • Guerrilla mortar strikes have improved in both accuracy and range, indicating better range-finding systems, low signature weapons, and the use of mortar boosters that enable consistent hits for 2 to 3 miles.

  • New anti-tank weapons capable of burning through the armor plate of Israel's M-60 tanks.

  • Acquisition of anti-tank weapons with a longer range.

  • Supply of Katyusha rockets is estimated to have risen to 1,000. These include 30 Iranian produced 240 mm rockets with a range of 40 km, according to Israeli intelligence reports. Most of the rockets are 120 mm and 127 mm variants with a maximum range of 22 km.

  • Improved radio detonated roadside bombs have been effective against the Israelis. Some are disguised as large rocks. The rocks are reportedly produced in Iran.

  • Hezbollah is now winning against Israel. More Israeli soldiers are being killed than Hezbollah fighters; Israeli retaliatory air strikes and raids are aiding Hezbollah by alienating Lebanese. Considerable Christian and Sunni support now for Hezbollah.


South Lebanese Force [SLA] Developments in 1998

1,800 man (4/97) force equipped and paid by Israel and supported by up to 2,000 Israeli troops.

  • 30 T-54/54

  • M-113 and BTR-50 APCs

  • D-30 122mm, M-46 130 mm, and M-1950 155 mm towed artillery.

  • Some 160 mm mortars.

Hezbollah intelligence has penetrated the SLA. Guerrillas often seem to know where and when SLA and Israeli patrols will come.

Sense of imminent abandonment by Israel, amongst SLA soldiers has cause morale to plunge.

Sources of manpower include Fifteen-year-olds with fake identification cards and men in their 40's and 50's.

Casualties in the SLA have fallen and Israeli casualties have risen as Israelis have taken over a lot of work that the SLA used to do.

Israeli Gen. Elie Amitai announced in April that Israel would provide the SLA with new weapons but did not specify what those weapons would be. He also said that Israel would begin training SLA soldiers to carry out commando operations outside the security zone.


Center for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS]
1800 K Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 775-3270

Copyright Anthony H. Cordesman, all rights reserved.



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