TEL AVIV (Jul. 17)
The commander of Israel’s Air Force said today that the Air Force has succeeded in maintaining its quantitative gap over Arab air forces and in certain respect has widened it since the June, 1967 Six-Day War. Gen. Mordecai Hod spoke to newsmen at a press conference prior to Air Force Day ceremonies at an air base somewhere in Israel.
He said the quality of Israel’s pilots was the secret of the Air Force’s success but noted that the Arab air forces have a quantitative advantage. Israel needs more planes. Gen. Hod declared, in view of the continuing build-up of Arab air strength by the Soviet Union. He said one lesson of the Six-Day War was that Israel’s Air Force must be built on a multi-purpose aircraft as its backbone with additional specialized planes assigned specific tasks.
Addressing newly commissioned pilots at Air Force Day ceremonies later, Gen. Hod described Israel’s air arm as the “spearhead” of the armed forces which must mount the initial, surprise thrust against the enemy in any war. Israel’s Air Force destroyed the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan on the ground in surprise attacks during the first hours of the Six-Day War. Gen. Hod said the Air Force’s strength lies in its pilots, its maintenance crews, its armaments and its communications all of which comprise a single entity of men and machines.
The Air Force Day ceremonies were also addressed briefly by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who paid tribute to the Apollo 11 astronauts now on their way to a moon landing Sunday. He said that Israel was dependent on foreign sources even for its conventional aircraft and added, “we do not always get the best and most modern equipment.” Nevertheless, Gen. Dayan said, “while the wings may be French or American, the feathers are ours and they are glorious feathers.”