June 5, 1967 7:45 a.m. The Israeli Air Force launched its first strike on Egyptian air bases and radar stations. Then a second strike was inflicted on Egyptian air bases. As a result, the Israeli Air Force established complete air supremacy, destroying 304 of 419 Egyptian aircraft. The air forces of Jordan and Syria were later defeated, and Iraqi suffered serious damage. aviation in the Mosul area. The war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq began. It was called the Six Day War, since active hostilities continued from June 5 to 10, 1967.
As a result of this war, Israeli troops captured the entire Sinai Peninsula (with access to the east coast of the Suez Canal) and the Gaza Strip from the Egyptians, the western bank of the Jordan River and the eastern sector of Jerusalem from the Jordanians and the Golan Heights from the Syrians. Thus, Israel has increased the territory of the state in 3,5 times.
Before the war, the situation in the Middle East began to rapidly heat up in the spring of 1967. 18 May 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser demanded that the UN forces withdraw from the ceasefire line with Israel and the coast of the Strait of Tirana. Nasser led the troops of Egypt to these positions and closed the exit for Israeli ships from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea. On May 30, the Jordanian King Hussein joined the Egyptian-Syrian coalition. It was announced the blockade of the Israeli coast. The Middle East was quickly slipping into another Arab-Israeli war.
I must say that Moscow was not a supporter of this war. But the Soviet Union, largely due to inertia, was forced to support the Arab coalition morally and politically. 23 May 1967, Moscow said it would support Arab countries if they were attacked by Israel. However, the Egyptian President at the same time transparently hinted that the USSR would remain aloof if Cairo is the first to unleash a war against the Jewish state. In addition, it must be said that both parties to the conflict were interested in this war. Observers noted at that time in the capitals of the Arab countries (Cairo, Damascus and Amman) a real military psychosis. On national radio and television constantly broadcast military marches. After the execution of the latter, as a rule, a portion of threats followed in the direction of Israel and the United States. The morale of the population was raised by optimistic reports from the disposition of the troops that were deployed near the Arab-Israeli borders. Israel wanted to solve the problem of obtaining a number of strategic positions, to destroy the accumulated military potential of the enemy.
The Arab States in the spring of 1967 took active measures to increase the combat readiness of their armed forces and their deployment. 14 May Cairo began bringing its army on full alert. The troops were deployed in and around the Suez Canal, and on May 15, Egyptian forces were deployed to Sinai and began to concentrate near the border of Israel. May 21 in Egypt declared a general mobilization. By 18 May Syrian troops were deployed in the Golan Heights area. Jordan began mobilizing 17 in May and completed its 24 in May. 30 May concluded an agreement on mutual defense between Cairo and Amman. 29 May Algerian troops sent to Egypt, and 31 May Iraqi troops - in Jordan. The Arab states were preparing to “throw the Jews into the sea”.
Israeli Tanksoffensive on the Golan Heights
9 May 1967, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) authorized the government to conduct a military operation against Syria. At that time, the relations of the two countries were exacerbated due to three main reasons: 1) conflict over water resources (the drainage problem of Jordan), 2) conflict due to control over demilitarized zones along the ceasefire line 1948 of the year, 3) due to for supporting Damascus militant groups of Palestinian Arabs who committed acts of sabotage against Israel. In the second half of May, mobilization of first-line reservists began in Israel. 20 May Israel completed partial mobilization (according to other data, full). 23 May 1967, the Israeli government stated that the obstacles imposed by Israeli shipping would be considered a declaration of war, as would the withdrawal of UN security forces, sending Iraqi forces to Egypt and signing a military alliance between Amman and Cairo. Israel reserved the right to start hostilities first. On the same day, the Israeli government ordered the general staff to complete preparations for the war against Syria and Egypt and to begin general mobilization in the country. It was also decided to appoint General Moshe Dayan to the post of Minister of Defense, who was a supporter of a hard line in relation to the Arab states.
The Union of Arab States, in preparation for "throwing the Jews into the sea," continued the mobilization and operational deployment of its armed forces. The problem was that these events were not carried out purposefully and planned, with serious flaws. During the preparation for the war, neither Damascus nor Cairo conducted a serious reconnaissance of enemy forces, as a result of which the Arab military did not know the composition, plans of action and capabilities of the Jewish armed forces as a whole and their parts concentrated on the borders of the Arab countries. In fact, the Arabs overestimated their capabilities and underestimated the potential of the enemy.
The advancement of military units to operational deployment areas, especially in the Sinai Peninsula, was not organized in a sufficiently organized and, in most cases, openly. The Arab states that were pushed into the initial position before the offensive did not take sufficient defensive measures and were not actually ready to repel a possible Israeli offensive.
In addition, the long presence of troops in a state of full combat readiness (about 22 days) led to the fact that the pressure of personnel, calculations of air defense systems, radar and flight personnel of the Air Force gradually fell. This led to a drop in the combat readiness of troops, especially aviation and air defense. Arab nonchalance has also affected. In general, the Arab states were prepared for war in many areas weaker than Israel.
The Israeli government, meanwhile, did not wait for the Arab countries to finally gather their strength and go on the offensive. Tel Aviv rightly feared a concerted offensive by superior enemy forces from three directions. There was no place for the Israeli armed forces to retreat: the “depth” of the country is quite comparable to the tactical zone of defense of a combined-arms division. Therefore, the Israeli command decided to act proactively, to use its advantage in the army’s combat training, to smash the forces of the Arab coalition one by one, before their command finally agreed on joint action plans.
At the first stage, it was decided to deliver sudden massive air strikes on the enemy's air force and air defense, to achieve air supremacy. On the night of 5 June 1967, the Israeli government made the final decision to begin hostilities against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. In the course of this military campaign, Tel Aviv was going to defeat the armed forces of the Arab countries, which created a threat to the very existence of the Jewish state.
The forces of the parties
In quantitative terms, in general and in the main operational areas, the troops of the Arab Union were significantly superior to Israeli forces. Not inferior to the Arab armies, Israeli troops and in terms of technical equipment. Egyptian and Syrian naval forces significantly outnumbered the Israeli Navy both quantitatively and qualitatively.
But by the general level of combat training, the Israeli armed forces seriously exceeded the forces of the Arab states. The combat capability of all the main types of the armed forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and especially of the Air Force and Air Defense, was low. This was primarily the result of low field training of troops and staffs, as well as the insufficient manning of military units with officer and engineering staff. For example, in the Egyptian army, the army officers were 60-70% and the headquarters were 45-50%. All types of aircraft were equipped with technical staff only on 40-45%. In addition, it is necessary to note the psychological aspect of the Arab armies - their low combat stability, disorder, and lack of initiative.
Tank column with direct aviation support
Thus, despite the overall superiority in the forces and means of the anti-Israeli union, there was little chance of an Arab victory.
Personally, the Arabs had the advantage of 1,8: 1. Egypt, Jordan and Syria - 435 thousand people (60 brigades), with Iraqi forces - up to 547 thousand, Israel - 250 thousand (31 brigade). For tanks and SPG - 1,7: 1, in favor of the Arabs. The Arabs - 1950 (with Iraq - 2,5 thousand), Israel - 1120 (according to other data 800). By plane - 1,4: 1. Arabs have 415 (with Iraqi 957), Israelis have before 300. On the Sinai direction, Egypt had: 90 thousand people (20 brigades), 900 tanks and SPG, 284 combat aircraft. Israel: 70 thousand soldiers (14 brigades), 300 tanks and SPGs, up to 200 aircraft. On the Damascus direction in Syria: 53 thousand people (12 brigades), 340 tanks and SPG, 106 aircraft. Israel: 50 thousand soldiers (10 brigades), 300 tanks and SPGs, up to 70 aircraft. On the Amman direction in Jordan: 55 thousand soldiers (12 brigades), 290 tanks and self-propelled guns, 25 aircraft. Israel: 35 thousand people (7 brigades), 220 tanks and ACS, up to 30 aircraft.
The outbreak of war
Fighting Israeli armed forces began striking combat aviation against the main Egyptian air bases and airfields, radio engineering air defense posts, positions of anti-aircraft missile systems and bridges across the Suez Canal. An air strike was struck in two echelons. The first echelon of the Israeli Air Force was flown on the morning of June 5 at 7.45 - 8.30 on Egypt’s advanced airfields on the Sinai Peninsula, air defense facilities and bridges across the Suez Canal. The second echelon raid is around 9.00 in the morning on the airfields, which were located behind the Suez Canal, as well as in the central and southern parts of the Egyptian state. In the first echelon operated up to 100 combat aircraft, and in the second - more than 120 machines. In total, 16 Egyptian airfields and several radar stations were subjected to air strikes.
The actions of the Israeli Air Force were carefully prepared in time, routes and targets. Groups of aircraft that struck airfields in the region of Cairo and the Suez Canal flew from airfields located in the central part of the Jewish state, and those that struck Egyptian air bases on the Sinai Peninsula from airfields in southern Israel. In order to ensure the surprise of the strike, the groups that acted on the airfields in the Cairo region and the Suez Canal, after take-off, went to the area west of Alexandria over the sea at a distance of 50-80 km from the coast at low altitude in 150-300 m. radio interference. Thus, the secrecy of the approach of the aircraft was achieved, since the Egyptian airborne radar weapons did not ensure the reliability of detecting targets flying at such low altitudes in the presence of radio interference. Bypassing the Egyptian air defense zone, Israeli planes in small groups (on 4-6 aircraft) attacked from the western and north-western directions simultaneously the following main airfields of Egypt: Cairo-western, Cairo-international, Inshas, Abu-Suweir, Almaza, Fayid, Luxor, El Cabrit, Al Mansur. Initially, the Arab Egyptian command even felt that it was hit by the US and British air forces.
When approaching targets, Israeli planes reduced speed to a minimum and carried out several combat approaches. First of all, they attacked the aircraft on duty and the runways (WFP), after which they destroyed the vehicles in the parking lots and in the hangars, as well as the aviation control facilities. For the decommissioning of the runway, the Israeli Air Force used special concrete bombs, and for the destruction of equipment - cannon fire and unguided rockets (NURSs). The fire of the Arab anti-aircraft guns was discovered with considerable delay. Arab aviation and air defense were completely unprepared for repelling enemy raids. Egyptian fighter aircraft was taken by surprise and inactive. The duty units of the fighter aviation were alerted only at the airfields of the Sinai Peninsula, but their actions were ineffective. Israeli aircraft suffered no losses from enemy fighters.
Aviation units that were based in the depths of the state did not even receive information about enemy strikes on advanced airfields. Therefore, the impact of the second echelon on them also turned out to be sudden.
Deployed at the firing positions around the most important objects of the state and the airfields of Egypt, the divisions of anti-aircraft missile forces (168 launchers SAM-CA-75) had a weak resistance to the strike of Israeli aviation. In the first two raids, Israel lost just nine planes, the others 6 were badly damaged. Anti-aircraft artillery turned out to be the most combat-ready in Egypt, during the whole war it hit 35 of Israeli aircraft (of all, Israel lost about 50 aircraft during the entire war), while 57-mm complexes showed high efficiency.
After the first strike, the command of the Egyptian Air Force did not take measures to clean up the surviving forces, although control was not completely disrupted. This allowed Israeli aviation to carry out a successful second strike with forces over 120 aircraft and consolidate the first success. Like the first attack, the aircraft were in small groups of 4-6 aircraft with access to targets at very low altitudes. In the future, throughout the day, Israeli aircraft continued to strike at individual objects in Egypt, and attacked the bases of the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi air forces. For example, during June 5, only on the Syrian Dmeyr airfield, nine groups of 4 aircraft were struck. During the first day, Israeli aircraft flew around 400-420 combat missions, of which, by air bases, to 300 and by troops, to 120.
As a result of the fighting 5 June, the Israeli Air Force completed the task of defeating enemy aircraft and seized air superiority. In total, 304 from the 419 Egyptian aircraft was destroyed, all Jordanian air forces (25-28 aircraft) and about half of the Syrian air forces (53 aircraft), as well as 10 Iraqi aircraft were eliminated. In addition, nine airfields of Egypt were completely incapacitated, and two airfields of Syria, others suffered serious losses. In the future, practically unresisting attacks by the Israeli air forces on Arab columns and positions will become the most important factor in the demoralization and collapse of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian troops.
Interestingly, despite the crushing defeat of the Air Force and Air Defense of Egypt, in the high command of eyewitnesses of events there was complete calm, bordering on indifference. The country's military-political leadership did not even remotely imagine the scale of the catastrophe and its consequences that befell the Egyptian armed forces.
Captured from the Arabs captured Soviet armored vehicles at the parade in Jerusalem
Already since June 6, Israeli aviation has concentrated its main efforts on direct support of ground combat operations in the Sinai and Jordan directions, and from June 8 in the Damascus direction. Israeli aviation has steadily increased its efforts, delivering continuous strikes on the Arab ground forces. In the course of combat operations against groups of Arab ground forces, Israeli aircraft used bombs, air-to-surface missiles, napalm and cannon fire. The strikes were delivered suddenly and practically without serious opposition from the Arab air defenses. Full supremacy in the air allowed the Israeli command to use training aircraft as ground attack aircraft.
The actions of aviation in Arab countries as a result of the most severe losses were episodic in nature and could not have a serious impact on the overall course of the war. The activities of the Egyptian air force was limited mainly to cover the capital and raids of small groups of aircraft on some Israeli targets. Aviation of Syria and Iraq 5 June tried to strike at Haifa, Tel Aviv and other cities, but due to the insignificance of forces and poor training, could not cause significant harm to Israel. In turn, the Israeli air strikes on Syria led to significant losses for the Syrian air force.
Fighting land forces turned around on the morning of June 5 first on the Sinai direction, then in the Jerusalem area, on the Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Syrian borders and continued until June 13.
To be continued ...