Israelis military secrets published in Janes Sentinel

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The report, which already is regarded as a "must-read" by the world's military strategists, intelligence analysts and political planners, appears destined for the somewhat esoteric "spooks" best-seller list.

It also has, not surprisingly, been the cause of profound dismay and considerable consternation among Israel's obsessively secret military establishment, one of whose members told the Jerusalem Post this week that its content is "not far from reality."

Where, not so long ago, the sum budgeted for defense spending was a state secret, it is now possible, at the flick of a page, to ascertain not only a reasonably precise figure ($6.9 billion, or NIS 20,424 billion, for 1995), but also a huge quantity of other detail, both macro and micro.

Readers can learn, for example, that there are 177,500 personnel on active service at any one time, of which 140,000 are conscripts. In addition, there are 429,000 reserve soldiers, of whom 365,000 are attached to the army, 54,000 to the air force and 10,000 to the navy.

If your interest runs to military hardware, you will be interested to know that Israel's armored units possess more than 3,800 main battle tanks, of which 1,800 are described as "high quality" (the Merkava, the M60A-3 and the upgraded M60/Magach 7) while the rest (a hodge-podge of Centurions, M60/M60A1s, M48A5s and T-62s) are considered to be of "medium quality".

Compare that to the artillery's stocks of 1,150 self-propelled weapons and 400 towed howitzers (a precise breakdown of numbers and varieties of the weapons is available in the report).

Skipping quickly over the number and variety of anti-tank, air-defense and infantry weapons, we arrive at two pages of tables detailing the jewel in the nation's crown — the Israel Air Force.

Of the 664 fixed-wing aircraft and 225 helicopters that are specified, at least 30 are engaged in the somewhat murky field of intelligence: A total of six aircraft (two Boeing 707s and four E2Cs) are dedicated to early-warning duties; 10 RF-4Es are employed for reconnaissance missions; 10 (two Boeing EC-707s and eight Arava 202 ECMs) are used for electronic counter-measures, and four (two Boeing EC-707s and two Lockheed Martin EC130s) are dedicated to gathering electronic intelligence.

The air force also has at its disposal some 11 varieties of pilotless drones, two of which evoke particular interest: one named Samson; the other, Delilah.

By contrast, the navy's 13 fast-attack crafts, three corvettes and three submarines receive relatively scant consideration, although it is useful to learn that Israel will take delivery of two Dolphin-class submarines from Germany's Howaldtswerke yard next year.

Inevitably though, the sexiest and most heavily thumbed sections of the report will be those dealing with intelligence, ballistic missiles and what is quaintly termed as WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). As in the other sections, there is a detailed flow-chart and organizational structure, no doubt designed to help readers understand more clearly and more precisely which elements are involved in Israel's intelligence establishment, what they do, how they function and with whom they interact.

Here you will learn that Israel's four main intelligence branches — the Mossad, the Shin Bet, Military Intelligence and the Foreign Ministry's Research Department — all feed into a counterintelligence coordination unit. It feeds into the National Security Council, which, in turn, passes on pre-selected, predigested packages of data to the prime minister.

One also learns of other active intelligence units, such as Lekem (the Scientific Affairs Liaison Bureau), which allegedly oversaw the operations of U.S. Navy civilian analyst and convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Despite Israel's official policy of nuclear ambiguity, the report does not even entertain the possibility that Israel might not have nuclear weapons or the means to deliver them, although it acknowledges that there are differing estimates regarding the number and nature of nuclear warheads that are stockpiled (between 100 and 300).

"There is no doubt that Israel has the means of delivering weapons of mass destruction by making use of its formidable arsenal of ballistic missiles," the report notes. These include 150 Jericho-1 missiles, 50 Jericho-2s and 160 MGM-55C (Lance) missiles. In addition, the report speculates that a Jericho-3 has been developed, with assistance from South Africa.

The Jericho-1, with a maximum range of 500 km and a maximum payload of 500 kg, is the most primitive of Israel's missiles. About 50 are reported to be deployed on mobile launchers in shelters near nuclear-warhead storage facilities. A further 100 are said to be deployed at Kfar Zehariya, in the Judean hills.

The Jericho-2 is considerably more sophisticated, with a range of over 1,500 km and a maximum payload of 1,000 kg, while the Jericho-3, which will permit Israel to strike at targets throughout the Arab world and into the southern parts of the former Soviet Union, constitutes an additional refinement.

Top of the range, however, is the Shavit, which has been used to launch satellites but which could, according to the report, be "modified for military purposes and converted into a powerful ballistic missile" with a range of 4,500 km and a payload of 1,100 kg.

Israel, notes the report, "undoubtedly has the expertise and technology to produce biological weapons and could do so very quickly." However, it says, there is no evidence of any organized production program.

The same is not necessarily true of chemical weapons, according to the report, which quotes analysts as suggesting that a production facility was established at Dimona in 1982 for nerve and mustard gas, as well as other unspecified gasses.

It says Israel may have stepped up efforts to produce chemical weapons during the '80s in response to evidence that Syria was deploying such weapons and after Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran. However, it notes, Israel has always denied producing chemical weapons and in January 1993 it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

For those still curious, here are answers to those questions you never dared ask:

*The home of Israel's strategic nuclear deterrent, according to the report, is located in bunkers at the Jericho missile base near Kfar Zehariya in the Judean hills. Tests on nuclear weapon designs are conducted at Sorek; nuclear-capable missiles, such as the Jericho, are built at Be'er Ya'acov and tested at the Palmahim Missile Test Range; nuclear weapons are assembled and dismantled at Yodfat, while tactical nuclear weapons are stored at Eilabun.

*Mixed defense and attack air force squadrons are based at Hatzor, Nevatim, Ramat David, Ramon and Uvda. An air-defense squadron is based at Tel Nof while attack squadrons are based at Hatzerim, Ramon, Nevatim, Tel Nof, Uvda, Palmahim and Ramat David. Emergency air bases are situated at Megiddo, Haifa, Biranit, Revaya, Madochot, Gibor, Shdema Amiad, Dalton, Mahanayim, Beit El, Hatzeva and Betzet.

*Maintaining Israel's military capability cost $1,200 per head in 1995.