TEL AVIV (Oct. 17)
All signs point to an early resumption of Soviet arms shipments to Egypt which almost certainly will include the new MIG-23, the fastest known combat aircraft and probably the mobile SAM-6 missiles, informed sources indicated today. The Russians have already supplied MIG-23s to Syria, which are being flown to some extent by Syrian pilots, and they have given the Syrians many batteries of SAM-6 surface-to-air missiles. The Egyptians reportedly are anxious-to obtain the SAM-6 to supplement their static air defense system with a mobile missile umbrella.
Reports from Moscow indicate that the Egyptian military mission currently in the Soviet capital is well satisfied with the outcome of their negotiations with Soviet defense officials. Lebanese newspapers reported today that Russian arms have already reached Egyptian ports, ending the military supply cut-off that followed the Yom Kippur War when Egypt appeared to be leaning toward the United States.
While the SAM-6 is a defensive weapon, it would permit Egyptian offensive operations by providing a mobile cover for advancing ground forces against attack by Israeli planes. The Lebanese weekly, Al Usbue el-Arabi; has reported that Egypt now has more tanks than on the eve of the Yom Kippur War. According to the report, the Egyptian tank force consists of over 2000 vehicles spread among three instead of two divisions. Egypt also reportedly has 2500 armored vehicles and 561 interceptor aircraft, mostly MIG-21s.
ELEMENT FOR A TOTAL WAR
Syria, according to the report, has 1600 tanks including a large number of new models and 1400 armored vehicles. Israeli military circles believe that the decisive elements, which would make a new Arab-Israeli war a “total war” is the large quantity of ground-to-ground missiles in possession of both Egypt and Syria.
These include the “Frog.” with an 80-kilometer range in Syrian hands, and two brigades of the 300-kilometer “Scud” missiles in the Egyptian arsenal. According to the Lebanese newspaper, Israel is acquiring American “Cobra” helicopters equipped with TAU anti-tank missiles. (See related story by Joseph Polakoff from Washington on sale of planes to Kuwait.)