"The Middle East is in the throes of a frantic arms race, both in numbers of weapons and unbelievable financial costs", Maj. Gen. Ido Nehoshtan, the commander of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), told IsraelDefense this week.
"The race is going on in almost every country in the region, including organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah. Whoever can buy [weapons] – buys [them], and invests all his efforts in force building. It's just about being equipped with smart weapons, but also with inexpensive devices that we learned can be extremely threatening. Syria, for example, is getting new armament from Russia while it also invests in air power and anti-aircraft missiles,” added Nehoshtan.
The Air Force’s commander is also worried about the current extreme instability of region’s regimes – and said that the situation makes investment in the Air Force even more crucial.
"Today the name of the game is building a versatile, flexible multi-task force", he explained. "The world is transforming in front of our eyes, and we need to adapt ourselves to it with the tools that we have.
"Israel has to know how to deal with the challenges on our doorstep – engage in different types of campaigns, such as asymmetrical warfare against missiles and rockets launched from the center of urban areas, where operations are extremely difficult, and in campaigns against regular military forces.
"The insurance policy that Israel is building must be capable of defending the country from all the threats in all the sectors. It must know how to operate at different ranges in different theaters. If you analyze all of the security risks that Israel faces, the [seemingly] logical -- but mistaken -- conclusion is that we have to establish a number of armies according to the number of threats. But since we have only one army, it will have to deal with the wide variety of threats.
"Therefore multi-tasking and versatility are today's buzzwords. And I say this loud and clear: investment in air power is the best policy. The air force can adapt itself to any type of task".
IsraelDefense asked Nehoshtan about the Ground Forces' interest in a budget that would enable it to acquire precision strike capability. He said: "The Air Force is the best firepower the ground forces have. The expertise required to deliver Precision Guided Munitions into the enemy's depth belongs solely to the air force. Period! This expertise is not just in the platform carrying the munitions but primarily in the operational cycle."