Following Israel’s lightning Six-Day War victory over the Arabs, Israel’s military leaders determined that the time was ripe for the acquisition of a new tank to meet the challenges of the modern battlefield. The Soviets had begun supplying the Arabs with more modern T-62 tanks and Israel needed to maintain its qualitative edge.
After conducting extensive tests and trials and examining alternatives, the Israelis determined that the British Chieftain tank, Britain’s own successor to the venerable Centurion, would be best suited for Israel’s needs. In 1968 Britain’s Ministry of Defense agreed to the sale but the following year, the British Foreign Office, which had always maintained hostility toward the Jewish State, nixed the deal.
Israel was outraged and its prime minister, Golda Meir, personally visited London to persuade Prime Minister Harold Wilson to change his mind, but to no avail. The Foreign Office was to have the last word on the matter. To add insult to injury, the British had agreed to sell Chieftain tanks to Israel’s enemies, including Libya!
Britain’s perfidious conduct turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for it planted the seeds for the development of the Merkava tank, Israel’s own indigenously designed creation. In 1978, the Merkava was unveiled to the world and has undergone continuous improvements since that time. It is currently the mainstay of Israel’s vaunted armored corps, and is rated to be among the finest tanks in the world.
Throughout its history, Israel has had to endure similar betrayals. For example, up until 1967, France had been Israel’s principle supplier of jet fighters but just prior to the Six-Day War, it imposed an arms embargo on Israel. Israel had already placed an order for 50 Mirage V fighters, which it had paid for in full but the French refused to deliver them and like the British, ended up selling them to Israel’s enemies. That betrayal planted the seeds for the development of Israel’s indigenous Kfir fighter bomber, which saw combat during Operation Peace for Galilee and saw service with the U.S. Navy, and the air forces of Columbia and Sri Lanka.
In the summer of 2014, Israel was forced to go to war yet again, this time with the genocidal Arab terrorist group, Hamas. Hamas has deliberately placed its military infrastructure adjacent to civilian areas, cynically exploiting Gaza’s civilian population as human shields. In some instances, Hamas appallingly used UNRWA schools to store weapons and as a platform to fire rockets and mortars at Israel. Israel quickly identified the sources of fire and retaliated in measured fashion with precision guided munitions, neutralizing the threats.
Barack Obama, who had always harbored deep-seated hostility and resentment toward Israel, tried to force Israel into accepting a lopsided ceasefire agreement brokered by the pro-terrorist regimes of Qatar and Turkey. To facilitate this goal, he adopted a series of measures aimed at pressuring Israel. He ordered the State Department to issue a travel advisory against Israel. The following day, his Federal Aviation Administration issued a directive prohibiting U.S. carriers from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport after a rocket launched by Hamas fell harmlessly about a mile south of Tel Aviv airport. These directives were insidiously designed to inflict economic harm on Israel.
But Obama did not stop there. While Hamas was firing rockets at Israeli cities and digging tunnels for the ghoulish purpose of kidnapping kindergarten-aged children, he ordered the Department of Defense to withhold shipments of Hellfire missiles to Israel. Israeli Apache attack helicopters utilized the Hellfire missile in support of ground operations and where pinpoint precision was required.
It was an unprecedented move. While Israel was at war with a genocidal enemy committed to its destruction, Obama decided to withhold vital military equipment in an effort to place Israel at a military disadvantage.
Despite his best efforts to harm Israel, the Israelis decidedly won the 2014 Gaza War and taught Hamas a lesson it would soon not forget but Israel drew lessons of its own. It realized that Obama was at best, an unreliable ally and Israel could potentially be held hostage to the irrational whims of an unfriendly administration in times of war.
Following the Gaza War, the Israeli company Rafael, maker of the battle-tested and proven Spike precision missile, was asked by the government to modify the Spike so that it could be integrated with the Apache platform. Rafael obliged and soon after, Israeli Apaches were photographed equipped with the NLOS (Non-Line Of Sight) variant of the Spike.
Both the Spike and the Hellfire are precision guided but the Spike possesses capabilities lacking in the Hellfire. It has a range of up to 25 km, surpassing the Hellfire’s and renders the Apache less vulnerable to anti-aircraft defenses. The Non-Line Of Sight option means the target can be hit without the operator actually seeing the target and the missile can be guided via a laser designator or real-time wireless data link. The operator can also abort the mission after launch or change targets. This is an important feature that enables the operator to limit collateral damage should civilians suddenly appear or alternatively, to direct the missile toward a more valuable or dangerous target. The dynamic and fluid nature of the modern battlefield makes this feature invaluable.
During his tenure, Obama’s relationship with the Mideast’s only democracy was at best, acrimonious, and often times marred by petty feuds initiated by Obama or his shills, who took their cues from their boss. But Israel owes Obama a debt of gratitude for it was his misguided petulance during the Gaza conflict that produced the successful marriage between the Apache and the Spike NLOS, thus providing Israel with an even greater qualitative edge over its enemies.