How important are Israel’s tanks in an age when the Israeli Air Force seems to be at the core of the strength of the Israeli Armed Forces? The answer is that it is extremely important. As critical as an Air Force is, ultimately, the infantry and tanks are the ones on the ground that make the ultimate changes that have lasting impact.
In 1967, the Israeli Air Force dominated the skies and defeated 5 rival Air Forces – defeating many of the other Air Forces on the ground. However, Israel still needed to fight on the ground to eliminate the tanks that massed on their borders. Israel lost more than 600 people in the Six Day War – most of them – in battles on the ground. The Air Force cannot eliminate a threat on the ground – only boots on the ground and tanks can do it.
In 1973, the Israeli Air Force could not dominate the skies as in 1967. Ultimately, it was the young tank commanders and their crews that saved the country – both on the Golan Heights and in the Sinai Desert. Outnumbered and caught unprepared, they fought back with tanks that were not as strong as their enemy tanks. But with a lot of ingenuity, and with a little bit of help from Above, they turned back the enemy and turned the tide of the war. Tanks save countries just like an Air Force.