News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 16, 2013

RONN MOTT: Israel’s Air Force

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Recently the Israeli Air Force bombed and rocketed a convoy leaving Syria going to Lebanon with rockets that were going to be used to attack Israel. It did not get there. It was destroyed. Then, an area the Syrian regime called a scientific study building was also destroyed by the Israeli Air Force. It had very little to do with science and a whole lot to do with rockets that would be used to attack Israel. President Bashar al-Assad called it an act of war, but for the world it’s a very plain warning. No matter what the situation is in Syria, the Israelis were not about to allow their country to be rocketed by Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. As for President Assad’s threat of war, it is a joke. His air force is fortunate to get their wheels up and their airplanes into the air.  

The Syrians and the Egyptians have proven during the last few decades not to be a serious threat to Israel … at least not a serious threat from the air. The Israeli Air Force stacks up to be one of the world’s very best, and there are some very simple reasons why.

Most people realize the wash-out rate for pilot training for most of the world’s air forces is very high …10 percent or more. For the Israeli ground training schools, jet mechanics, armaments, refueling, etc., this training wash-out ratio is as high as pilot training. No air force anywhere else can make that claim.

The Syrian Air Force did not stand much of a chance against the Israelis when they were at full strength and only had one fight to be concerned about. Now, with this rebellious citizenry at the gates of almost everything the government runs in Syria, the air force of Syria would not stand a chance. So the threat of armed conflict only means a child fully loaded with explosives is about the only thing Syria can get accomplished.

I remember some statistics about the Israeli Air Force. They have taken or purchased aircraft from other countries and almost always made them better … French Mirages, our Phantom jet fighters, and now American F-16s. In the Israeli Air Force, only the best pilot leads an attack, regardless of rank. And a particular statistic sticks in my mind. Our tactical fighters and fighter bombers come in to refuel and re-arm and go back to the fight. They accomplish this in approximately 15 minutes. The Israeli Air Force does this in about seven minutes. But perhaps the most important thing is these times show their ground crews are by far the best.  

I suppose there are some college-trained sons of royalty and high officials in the Muslim world who may make good pilots. The question is how many of these western educated sons of Allah are willing to get their hands dirty on the flight line? I think the record shows the answer.

So, President Assad’s threats are hollow, but believe this  … the men who fly for the Israeli defense forces are not going to allow their country to be bombed or choked to death on poisonous gases. And it doesn’t matter what the world thinks or where President Obama’s red line is.

My money, if I were to bet, is on the men who fly and fix the aircraft for the Israeli defense forces.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.