Surrounded by hostile neighbors, Israel has long realized how imperative it is to strengthen its defenses and military capabilities. Years of being constantly on guard on all sides of its borders and above its airspace, officials of the 8,550 square miles of land had devised a stringent military tactic that has become a norm—injected into the roots of the nation passed through generation after generation to keep its sovereignty and independence intact. Coupled with experience and frequent opportunities to battle-test itself, Israel has become one of the most equipped countries operated by the best-trained military forces in the Middle East and, arguably, in the world.

Israel Google Earth
(Screenshot from Google Earth)

They upgraded their weapons and artilleries as technology progressed, giving them an upper hand over their adversaries and allowing them to stand rooted in their beloved motherland. Besides engineering their own, Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) collaboration with its Western allies, particularly the United States, has further boosted the technology of its military equipment, including combat jets, armored vehicles, and defense systems—most notably, the Iron Dome.

If worse comes to worst and the country finds itself at war, these three weapons will surely lead its military forces to victory.

#3. Iron Dome Air Defense System

Israel’s Iron Dome is the most notable among its indigenous weapon system simply because of its impeccable ability to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired up to 70 km away. This mobile all-weather air defense was a collaboration with the US, which contributed more or less $1.6 Billion to its development and another incoming funding of $1 Billion for the “life-saving system.”

It is made up of three major components: Detection & Tracking Radar (DTR), Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC), and Missile Firing Unit (MFU). The DTR detects and tracks the incoming trajectory, and once registered, the BMC calculates the impact point. Using the information at its disposal, the MFU will launch the interceptor missile before it reaches the predicted impact area.

The Iron Dome first became operational in March 2011. Days later, it proved its defense capability when for the first time, it successfully intercepted a projectile launched from the Gaza Strip and into the city of Ashkelon despite still being fine-tuned. The following year, The Jerusalem Post reported that “the defense system could intercept more than 90 percent of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip” and prevented mass casualties considering that targets of these assaults usually occur in populated areas. Around that time, three operational Iron Dome were initially positioned in the cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Beersheba. By 2014, the sophisticated air defense system had intercepted over 1,200 rockets.

Today, Israel has deployed ten Iron Dome batteries, each continuing to protect the country’s infrastructure and citizens within 60 square miles.

#2. F-35I Adir, Israel’s Stealth Multirole Combat Aircraft

While the Iron Dome ensures the population’s safety by intercepting attacks, the F-35I takes on Israel’s airspace. Also known as “Adir,” which means “Strong One,” the IDF tapped the US-based Lockheed Martin to build a specialized version of the F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jet.

Lockheed Martin built the F-35I to Israel’s specifications and gave them access to externally modify the advanced digital architecture of the fighter aircraft, including the electronic warfare and surveillance suite, communications systems, and mission control hardware. While the American F-35 remains air superior, the F-35I in the defense force of Israel only added strength to its IAF and served as a “game-chaning” on the Middle East battlefield.

Initially, the Jewish state wanted a version of the US F-22 Raptor but was denied, thus opting for the F-35. After a long process, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) finally commissioned its first nine Adir fighters in December 2017 and has become the service branch’s backbone since. Five months later, then-IAF commander Major General Amikam Norkin reported that the country had become the first one to use the F-35 in combat following an Iranian attack near the Syrian border.

By September 2021, the IAF has 30 F-35I in service, including a test plane at the Flight Testing Center of Tel Nof Air Base, and divided among the three “Adir” squadrons, namely, the 140th “Golden Eagle” squadron, the 116th “Lions of the South” squadron, and the 117th (training) squadron.

#1. Merkava “Chariot” Battle Tank

The Merkava “Chariot” Main Battle Tank (MBT) leads and empowers the ground forces under the IDF’s armored corps and is hailed as one of the most powerful MBTs ever to grace the battlefield. Its development began in the late 1970s and was extensively used in combat during the 1982 Lebanon War.

The Merkava tank series’ most recent variant is the Mark IV. It is known as the world’s most protected tank, with 70 percent of its weight serving as protection for vital parts and crew, as well as being fully protected against chemical and biological weapons and capable of serving as a temporary shelter in the event of nuclear fallout. Furthermore, the MBT has a modular composite design that allows for quick repairs and Israel’s 2011 homegrown Trophy active protection system, a countermeasure designed to protect its armored vehicles from anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Over the years, the Merkava MBT played a significant role in the IDF’s armored corps victories, and without it, it would absolutely cripple its ground troops against surrounding adversaries.