Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, July 13, 2014.
(photo credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP)
In any future war, Israel will be hit with the largest rocket salvos seen in its history – that was the stark warning issued by Brig.-Gen.
Zvika Haimovich, commander of air defenses in the Israel Air Force on Monday.
Speaking at the Israel Air Missile Defense Conference at Rishon Lezion, which was organized by the iHLS website, he said that Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas were carrying out joint research and development of rockets, adding, “We can see a lot of live tests in Gaza with Hamas, and with Iran and Hezbollah [in Lebanon]. They have put in a lot of effort into increasing and improving their skills.”
Hostile entities will seek to overwhelm air defenses with heavy salvos, Haimovich said.
“In the future, we will meet and engage much bigger salvos,” he said. They will come from multiple directions, and a “regional war” is a more realistic scenario than a single-front escalation.
Gazan and southern Lebanese weapons storage facilities house many thousands of rockets, Haimovich said, adding, “It doesn’t matter how many. We are dealing with a complicated environment.”
Israel’s enemies have concluded that firing large numbers of inaccurate rockets is insufficient, and in recent years, they have begun moving away from that tactic, and toward accurate, guided projectiles, he said. With rockets becoming accurate, the difference between rockets and missiles has become fudged, he added.
Hezbollah can cover more than 75 percent of Israeli territory with its rockets and missiles. “If we are talking about the multi-directional threat, this is much more complicated than what we faced five to 10 years ago. We will deal with very big numbers of salvos, of more than 50 to 100 [projectiles]. It doesn’t matter if this is [fired] by Hezbollah or Hamas. We will meet new surprises on the battlefield, that’s for sure,” the air defense chief said.
Additionally, enemies will fire cruise missiles at Israel in the next war, he warned.
“It’s not a nightmare. It’s a very realistic scenario.
This is the way we prepare and train our commands and units to be ready for the next event.”
The appearance of Islamic State in Sinai has added to the list of entities that can fire projectiles at Israel, Haimovich said.
In response to the mounting threats, the IAF’s air defense units are focused on creating flexibility, and updating their battle doctrine, to ensure they are dealing with future, rather than the past.
The IAF’s air defense units will need to be able to select the right targets out of a very crowded sky in any future conflict, Haimovich said, describing that task as a “huge challenge.”
He admitted that Israel has a lack of resources, and not enough interceptors to defend against the full range of aerial threat. “This means we have to maximize our interceptors. It [also] means that rockets and missiles will hit the State of Israel in the next escalation,” he armed.
The IAF’s mission is to minimize the damage, he added.
He called for the acquisition of more air defense batteries and interceptors, but added, “This isn’t enough.” Integrating the various air defense systems, creating cross-branch IDF cooperation, and working with the US are all needed, he argued.
“We need to prepare our units. I really don’t know when next war will occur. It’s a kind of race between us and the other side. Our challenge is to always be in front, and to be one step ahead of our enemies and neighbors,” Haimovich said.
“It’s not very optimistic, but this is a realistic scenario.”