Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lessons Philippines can learn from the Israeli Missiles War

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

The good thing about YouTube or is you don’t need to read.
Shore based anti ship missile system (photo : Militaryphotos)
You just grabbed a cold San Miguel Beer Light, lies at your bed, watch the documentary or flick rolls before your eyes.

Last night I was glued with the video documentary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism, which also occurred during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The connection of this war with today’s event has something to do with our Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) scrapping recently the P6.5 billion Shore Based Missiles System (SBMS) (a land-based mobile anti-ship missile system) by replacing them with marksmen rifles, long range sniper weapons system, and protective gears for the Philippine Army’s counter-insurgency operations.  A project pregnant with anomalies, as some critics said as it was not a government to government transaction but subject to the dynamics of bidding system Filipinos and their private contractors’ cohorts are very good at.
According to, the DND and the Israeli Ministry of Defense spent several years negotiating the SBMS deal, which is worth Php 6.5 billion. The missile system would be put under the operational control of the Philippine Air Force and would be installed along the coast of the Philippines’ western-most island of Palawan as part of the AFP’s maritime interdiction system against China’s growing naval presence in the South China Sea
SBMS is an Anti S Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) system, which involves countering a superior opposing force by limiting its area of free and safe access using asymmetric systems like missile batteries to guard sea and air spaces.

So let’s go back to the Yom Kippur War. The lesson we can learn in that War was the important role played by the Russian made Surface-Air-Missiles or SAMs just like the important role by the defunct SBMS' program versus the Chinese naval and air assets.
As you know Egypt’s air force  was almost decimated by the Israelis surprised attacks  in the Six Days War in 1967 when Israel jets flew too low to avoid the Egyptian’s radar.
In that 1967 War, a total of 338 Egyptian aircraft were destroyed and 100 pilots were killed. And I am not talking yet here about the Russian Migs and British Hawker jets blown to air and on the ground by the Jews in Syria and Jordan.
Yom Kippur: The War
In the 1973 War, Egypt’s surprised Israel when the latter celebrated the Yom Kippur. More than a hundred thousand troops of Egypt sailed on the West Bank to the East Bank’s of the Suez Canal, climbed the Bar Lev Line (a gigantic earth work fortifications), hosed the 18 metre (59 foot) high sand walls with a 60 degree slope with pressurized Sinai water to make a hole for tanks and troop to ingress and egress and pounced on the more than 400 Israeli troops who manned the Bar Lev.
 The Israelis who were able to counter-attacked after 48 hours flew their A-4 Sky Hawks, F-4 Phantom II, Dassault Mirage III, Dassault Super Mystère, IAI Nesher and rolled their M50 and M51 Sherman with upgraded engines, M48 Patton, M60 Patton, the sturdy Centurion,PT-76 and T-54/T-55 tanks.
The problem however with the Israelis, the Egyptians were waiting with their SAMs (a heat seeking Russian made missiles) to hit their jets and their tanks with the more advanced Russian made Sagger guided missiles and anti tanks’ Riffle Propelled Grenades (PRG) 7s and 43s that saw dozens of jets and countless of tanks blew in thin air and burned in the hostile desert.

In that War, thanks to the SAM, (that were grudgingly given by USSR Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev afraid Egypt President Anwar Sadat gravitate to the U.S in case he would not acquiesced) the Israelis cowered just like the Russians when they invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The Ivans did not know what hit them there when their countless MiG 21, Su-17, and SU 25 strike jets, and Mi 24 HIND assault helicopters (those menacing giant helicopters in the Rambo movies), Mi-8 transport helicopters, Mi-6 heavy transport helicopters and others started blowing on the air.
Thanks to the hundreds of U.S made FIM-92 Stinger  (a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM), which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles or helicopters (as an AAM and entered into service in 1981) given to the Mujahideen guerrillas.

DOWNSIDE: Egyptian troops go beyond the SAMs protection

The downside on Egypt why the Israel pulled off a victory on the brink of defeat was when Egypt Army Chief of Staff Saad El Shazly  grudgingly obeyed the political decision of Sadat and War Minister of War General Ahmad Ismail Ali   (after the prodding of the Russians in Moscow) to advance with their  100, 000 soldiers, 1,350 tanks, and 2,000 guns and heavy mortars for the onslaught to occupy more Israel controlled Sinai territories outside of the protective umbrellas of the SAMs after they occupied the West Bank of the Suez Canal.

That blunder caused them thousands of dead, hundreds of aircraft and tanks destroyed from the superior Israeli air force and modern sturdy tanks like the Centurion.
Since figures of dead and weapons on the parts of Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries are hard to ascertain in this War, The London Sunday Times combined Egyptian and Syrian losses of 16,000 killed and yet another source citing a figure of some 15,000 dead and 35,000 wounded. U.S. estimates placed Egyptian casualties at 13,000. Iraq lost 278 killed and 898 wounded, while Jordan suffered 23 killed and 77 wounded. Some 8,372 Egyptians, 392 Syrians, 13 Iraqis and six Moroccans were taken prisoner.
Arab tank losses amounted to 2,250 though Garwych cites a figure of 2,300. 400 of these fell into Israeli hands in good working order and were incorporated into Israeli service. Between 341 and 514 Arab aircraft were shot down. According to Herzog, 334 of these aircraft were shot down by the Israeli Air Force in air-to-air combat for the loss of only five Israeli planes. The Sunday Times Insight Team notes Arab aircraft losses of 450. 19 Arab naval vessels, including 10 missile boats, were sunk for no Israeli losses.
Moreover, the 3rd Army of Egypt with tens of hundreds of troops were strangled after Israel Generals Ariel Sharon, Avraham Adan, and Kalman Magen of the 143rd, 162nd, and 252nd Divisions, respectively, entered a gap between the 3rd and 2nd Egypt Armies (thanks to the information provided by U. S spy jet SR-71) that cross the West Bank, occupied some Egypt’s territory, and turned left to block any escape routes for the 3rd Army who were at the East Bank.
On the night of October 15, 20 Israeli tanks and 7 APCs under the command of Colonel Haim Erez crossed the canal and penetrated 12 kilometres into mainland Egypt, taking the Egyptians by surprise. For the first 24 hours, Erez's force attacked SAM sites and military columns with impunity. On the morning of October 17, it was attacked by the 23rd Egyptian Armored Brigade, but managed to repulse the attack. By this time, the Syrians no longer posed a credible threat and the Israelis were able to shift their air power to the south in support of the offensive. The combination of a weakened Egyptian SAM umbrella and a greater concentration of Israeli fighter-bombers meant that the IAF (Israel Air Force) was capable of greatly increasing sorties against Egyptian military targets, including convoys, armor and airfields. The Egyptian bridges across the canal were damaged in Israeli air and artillery attacks,” according to Wikipidea.
But son of a gun, forget about the blunders of the poorly trained Egyptian who were routed because of the chutzpah of the Israelis, the gist of this article is how missiles played a role in the defeat and victory of one’s country military. If Egypt made a blunder on getting outside the umbrellas of the SAMs, does it mean the Philippines would be paying a heavy price in scrapping the Shore Based Missiles System in case the Chinese declares war anytime from now with our country?

(You can read my selected columns at and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at

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