Air Combat During Arab-Israeli Wars

The conflict between Israel and the Arab states has been continuing with varying intensity for about 100 years (and in some cases since much earlier times).

Undoubtedly, this is the longest armed conflict in the twentieth century and one of the longest conflicts in history.
The dispute over the identity and shape of the territory of Israel is one of the most difficult, and the international community has still not managed to formulate a final opinion on this. After their tragic experiences (especially during the Second World War), the Jewish community decided to create their own state using a “fait accompli”. In 1948 there was a war, as a result of which the independent state of Israel was established within the former British Mandate of Palestine.
Arab states recognized this as a humiliation and started a virtually endless war aimed at its elimination. It was (and largely still is) a struggle based mainly on ideological and religious lines. Egypt and Syria had not, in fact, such large material interests in the destruction of the Jewish state, the more so that these wars were associated with huge costs. From a financial point of view, they would benefit a lot more if instead of starting a war, they would have commenced economic cooperation with Israel. In the conditions in the Middle East, this was impossible. The only Arab ethnic group which may have physically gained something from defeating Israel were the Palestinians, but they did not play a major role in the Arab-Israeli wars. The first glimpses of potential cooperation (or at least lack of open war) between Israel and Egypt appeared only as a result of the agreement at Camp David in 1978. After decades of costly wars with Israel, Egypt had to recognize that the defeat and destruction of the country was simply impossible and took the practical decision to discontinue open war. From then on there has been relative peace between Israel and Egypt.

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The fight against the Jewish state continues to be led by Syria, which significantly reduced its effort after losing the war in Lebanon in the mid-80s, later fighting on the border between Israel and Syria were already far less intense. Currently, Syria is engulfed by civil war, and the focus of its policy is aimed at completely different goals than the struggle against the state of Israel.
Other Arab countries also participated in the wars against Israel (especially Iraq), although the practical cessation of fighting by Egypt also significantly weakened their actions.
Israel, since the beginning of its independence, has acknowledged the great role of the Air Force. The Israeli air force played a leading role in all open wars conducted by the State. Israelis not only tried to equip their armed forces with the most modern aircraft possible, but also drew conclusions concerning the application of the principles and doctrines of the Air Force. The excellent results achieved by Israel’s air force confirm that these conclusions were correct.
Arab-Israeli Wars were also a form of fighting between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, because their weapons were tested there. Israel received arms of Western production (initially French, then American), and the Arab states of Egypt and Syria from the beginning were supported by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The results of these wars demonstrated the superiority of military techniques and philosophy derived from the West. They assumed the primacy of quality and modernity above numbers, which allowed Israel to inflict huge losses on the Arab armies and defend its own independence.

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Chapter I of this publication describes the history of the Air Force of Israel and Poland-related topics of countries of the Middle East. Polish themes there were indeed symbolic, but for Polish readers they may be very unfamiliar curiosity. This chapter describes the development of military aviation in Israel since the early aviation organizations in the British Mandate of Palestine in the 30s up to the present day. In addition, this chapter also contains information on Polish exports of aircraft to countries taking part the Israeli-Arab wars as well as co-operation between the Polish air force and Israel, and also other issues related to this.
Chapter II describes the course of aircraft combat during some of the conflicts between Israel and the Arab states. It deals with the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Six Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 as well as over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 1982. In addition, it describes the probable course of the air war between Israel and Syria at the turn of 20th and 21st centuries. If source materials on the conflicts up to the mid-80s are plentiful, to find references on present struggles from about 2000 is very difficult. They are, in fact too recent events for all information on this topic would have been open to the public. Only specific mentions of the subject get into the media. On this basis we have attempted to present those events.
We have skipped the subject of civil aviation, except for civilian aircraft bearing registration numbers of the British Mandate of Palestine, on which the first Jewish pilots in the late 30s trained.