TEL AVIV (Apr. 16)
Israel’s defense forces announced the incorporation of the American Lockheed Hercules CC-103 into its ranks. The giant military transport plane can carry 92 soldiers or 64 paratroopers or 74 stretchers, can launch pilotless planes, and can be used as a midair fueling station and as an aerial command post.
But its most important characteristic is its ability to take off from and land on short strips, even improvised ones. The Hercules transports saw action in Israel’s recent exercises in the Sinai. Each costs $4 million. At the same time, a contract for construction of three submarines for Israel’s Navy by the British Vickers firm was understood to have been signed April 6.
The submarines will be small, conventional ones of the “coastal” variety in the 500-ton range. Egypt mounted a diplomatic offensive to block the contract. According to Arab diplomats in London, Vickers also offered–with British government approval–to build submarines for Egypt. Neither the Defense Ministry nor the Israeli Embassy would comment on these reports. Arms supplies are traditionally never revealed by official sources.
ARAB LEAGUE THREATENS BOYCOTT
An Arab League delegation visited Vickers last week and threatened it with a total boycott unless it canceled the Israeli contract. The delegation was told that Vickers would go through with the contract no matter what the League might do. Several Arab countries are negotiating with Vickers for various purchases despite the Arab League threat.
Also being incorporated into the Israeli Army is an improved American Patton tank–the 1A30-MM–in addition to the Patton 3A60-MM already in the ranks. The improved tank is equipped with an infrared device that allows for waging nighttime battles. It is also better-protected and can cross water obstacles to a depth of 4.11 meters (13.5 feet). Last week the Army announced its incorporation of another American weapon, the 175-mm. cannon. The backbone of the Israeli Army is now American-made.
An additional novelty is the fourth new weapon announced last week–a Czech-built Katyusha-rocket launcher. These units contain 32 rockets of 130-mm. caliber, all of which can be fired in a single salve. The launchers are mounted on Czech-made vans called Pragas. Both launchers and vans were captured by Israel during the Six-Day War and used by its artillery units.