OpinionColumn

Israel’s pilots are becoming obsolete

Innovative technologies mean that Israel will no longer be dependent on potentially insubordinate opponents of judicial reform.

An Israel Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, June 25, 2015. Photo by Ofer Zidon/Flash90.
An Israel Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, June 25, 2015. Photo by Ofer Zidon/Flash90.
Ron Jager
Ron Jager served for 25 years as an IDF mental health field officer in operational units, including as commander of the Central Psychiatric Clinic for Reserve Solders at Tel-Hashomer. Visit his website at www.ronjager.com.

With the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War approaching, the most important lesson we can learn is to ensure that Israel will never again find itself unprepared for an external threat that can threaten its existence. 

In recent months, as the controversy over judicial reform has reached a peak of intensity, some reserve and retired Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilots have publicly called for refusal to serve when called up for training, including for a possible strike on the Iranian nuclear program. These calls have been made even though Iranian leaders have publicly and repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction. One anonymous reserve pilot made the connection explicit: “If you don’t stop the [judicial reform] legislation, we won’t attack Iran.”

This small but vocal group of dissident pilots has created a new strategic situation that calls into question the future role of such pilots in defending Israel and whether they can be counted on when needed. At the moment, the dissident pilots have effectively turned Israel’s security and defense requirements into a political issue.

The only logical conclusion is that such pilots can no longer be solely responsible for defending Israel against the Iranian threat. They have crossed the fine line between democratic dissent and endangering Israel’s national security. Therefore, Israel’s political and security leadership must adopt new defense technologies that are entirely reliable while diminishing the dependence on potentially dissident pilots.

The anti-judicial reform movement has shown over recent months that it is not against the government’s legislative agenda, but the democratically elected government itself. Protest leaders and their supporters from opposition parties understand that they will not be able to garner enough public support to topple Israel’s conservative government or win a national election in the foreseeable future.

Thus, protest leaders have resigned themselves to the fact that, at best, they can prevent the government from fulfilling its election platform of judicial reform by exacerbating social and political tensions. Israel’s dissident pilots have willingly taken a leading role in this insurrection against a democratically elected government.

Fortunately, in recent years Israel has become a world leader in technological innovation and the creation of military platforms. Because of these new technologies, air force pilots will no longer play a dominant role in Israel’s defense.

The release of information on these systems in recent months only strengthens the assessment that we are in the process of recalibrating Israel’s defensive and offensive military posture. The self-induced process of making IAF pilots obsolete has begun and will only accelerate.

Examples of these systems have most likely been publicized due to the need to enhance Israel’s deterrence as a result of the dissident pilots’ vocal insubordination and refusal to serve. The most recent system to be shown publicly is Iron Beam. This system uses a laser to destroy an airborne target. It works as a stand-alone system or as part of a larger air-defense platform.

Hypersonic missiles are the latest weapon intended to overcome interception systems like Israel’s Iron Dome. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a leading Israeli defense technology company, recently announced the development of an advanced missile interceptor dubbed Sky Sonic. It is described as a groundbreaking response to the growing threat of hypersonic missiles. The Sky Sonic interceptor represents a major technological leap, designed with exceptional maneuverability and high-speed capabilities, which allow it to effectively neutralize hypersonic missiles—which travel at ten times the speed of sound—with unmatched precision and stealth.

According to reports, the systems mentioned above are operational and being integrated into Israel’s overall defense strategy. As this process continues, the need for pilots will continue its diminishing trajectory, allowing Israel’s security establishment to prepare Israel for tomorrow’s threats without politically motivated interference.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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