Two Israeli journalists look at how their country has become an innovator in battlefield technology.
Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Katz (Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War, 2012, etc.) and Bohbot, a military editor and senior defense analyst for the Israeli news website Walla, make the convincing case that Israel, despite its small area and population, is a major player in weapons development. In fact, write the authors, the nation is in the top six globally in terms of arms exports, with annual sales averaging $6.5 billion since 2007. Its budget for research and development amounts to 4.5 percent of its gross domestic product, nearly a third of which is for weapons research. Equally important, the Israeli Defense Force encourages an informal structure in which a soldier with an idea can leapfrog over the chain of command to get it noticed. The authors tell the stories behind several different weapons systems Israel has developed or improved. The country began to research military drones in the late 1960s, when it needed to see what Egypt was doing on the other side of the Suez Canal. Over the years, its development of drones has spurred numerous other nations—including the U.S. and, inevitably, Israel’s own hostile neighbors—to invest in the technology. Israel may be the smallest nation with its own space program, launching satellites to keep an eye on the movements of its enemies. Other areas of innovation include advanced cyberwarfare and a highly effective anti-missile defense system. The one area that readers curious about Israeli armaments might want to know about—its rumored nuclear capability—is (understandably) left unexamined, but on the whole, few readers will be disappointed.
An enlightening look into one of the less-familiar corners of the modern military world.