By D. Bender
The Israeli Air Force is “the best in the world,” and the Israel Defense Forces are the best ground fighters in the region, according to research by two major military analysts, Business Insider (BI) reported Monday.
According to Patrick Megahan of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Military Edge project, and Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, the army rankings are “based on a holistic assessment of the militaries’ operational capabilities and hardware,” BI pointed out.
The rankings, according to BI, do not take into account allies outside of the Middle East, such as the United States, Russia China, or Iran.
Defense budgets in all countries of the Middle East are rising, according to a report published by IHS Jane’s Annual Defence Budgets Review at the beginning of the year, which noted that “Total global defense spending in 2014 will be USD 1.547 trillion up from USD 1.538 trillion in 2013 – 0.6% increase in real terms.”
The authors pointed out that the IDF, with a $15 billion defense budget, 176,500 active front-line personnel, 3,870 tanks, and 680 aircraft, has had, since the Jewish State’s creation in 1948, to constantly evaluate a complex matrix of foes, both state and non-state actors, in a highly unstable region.After Israel, Turkey came in at second place, which, according to the two, is based more on its self-production of defense and attack systems, and then Saudi Arabia.
Israel “has successfully fought large conventional armies, like the Egyptian and Syrian militaries in 1967 and 1972, as well as asymmetrical foes, like Palestinian militant groups,” according to the report, which lauded its close ties with the US, as well as a cutting edge local defense industry which give Israel a qualitative edge over other countries on the list.
“Pilot to pilot, airframe to airframe, the Israeli Air Force is the best in the world,” according to Harmer.
Despite rising diplomatic and political friction between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, military ties are reportedly strong, and Israel has agreed to purchase a second F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadron, in the wake of the latest visit to the US by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement in principle on the production of 43 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, including the first two to be built for the Israeli Air Force. The deal is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.
This will mark the eighth lot of F-35 aircraft to be produced. Production and delivery of the lot will begin in 2016.
The first of 19 F-35s are due to land in Israel in 2016, and the second group are expected to arrive starting in 2019, pending final fiscal approval.