TEL AVIV (Jul. 11)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres said today that Israel was ready for peace but must be ready “to repulse the enemy’s threat that hides itself behind negotiations.” Peres addressed a pilots’ graduation at an air base somewhere in Israel on the occasion of Air Force Day.
Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur and Air Force Commander Gen. Benjamin Peled pinned the wings on the uniforms of the newly commissioned pilots as their families, friends and Air Force veterans looked on. The graduating ceremony was followed by an impressive air show in which the Air Force demonstrated precision flying and its capacity to transport large numbers of men and heavy equipment.
CONSTRUCT NEW SYSTEM OF FORCES
Peres’ emphasis was on preparedness. He noted that the disengagement agreements did not bring about a reduction of the forces arrayed against Israel. The Arabs regard the political moves as a basis for additional military moves, he claimed. In the next five years the Arab countries will spend billions of dollars to double their air forces, triple their armor and fill their arsenals with sophisticated ground-to-ground, air-to-air and sea-to-sea missiles, Peres said. He said Israel “must construct a new system of forces to meet the future systems of enemy might.”
Peres referred with pride to the qualitative superiority of Israeli airmen and the Air Force’s versatility. He said that in the Yom Kippur War the enemy lost 55 aircraft to every Israeli plane downed. He said the Israeli Air Force had successfully passed all tests against sophisticated Soviet technology and against the lowest forms of Arab terrorist extremism.
“Today, the eyes of the nation are fixed upon this courageous, professional and consolidated force, confident that what it lacks in quantity will be complemented by your greatness,” Peres told the graduates. A feature of the air show was the giant Hercules transport planes which took off from a 100-yard strip with the aid of booster rockets and landed, disgorging from its fusilage a jeep. command car and truck and a large unit of paratroopers.