TEL AVIV (Apr. 15)
Gen. Ezer Weizman, former commander of Israel’s Air Force, said in an interview published today that he thought the American F-4 Phantom jet was superior to the Russian’s advanced MIG-23 which has recently been supplied to Egypt. The MIG-23, known to NATO by the code-name “Flogger,” is said by some authorities to be the world’s best fighter plane in operation today. It is reportedly faster than the Phantom which is presently the backbone of Israel’s Air Force and is said to out-perform the American jet in other ways. But Gen. Weizman told the newspaper Maariv, “If I could go into a shop and choose my plane, I would choose the Phantom, not the MIG-23. The Phantom is better than the MIG and the Israeli pilot is superior to the Egyptian and Russian. In case of war they would down the MIG-23 just as they downed its predecessor.”
Weizman said he didn’t believe the MIG-23 was capable of the Mach-3 speed attributed to it. He said it might have a speed of Mach-2.4 against the Phantom’s Mach 2.2 but such a small margin makes little difference. Weizman said that in general he favored Western armament to that of the Russians. Speaking as a leader of the militant Herut Party, Weizman said he thought it was vital for Israel to hold on to the Sinai peninsula because it provides warning against air attacks. He said he was absolutely opposed to any interim arrangement with Egypt which called for an Israeli withdrawal from the Suez Canal. He charged that the Meir government was “filled with fears” and said it should resign.