BY YONAH JEREMY BOB
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been right to push to buy more submarines over objections by some in the defense establishment, former National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror said on Wednesday.
Amidror’s comments at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies conference were of special interest, as the prime minister has been attacked harshly for his interventions regarding acquiring submarines from Germany, and some of his top aides are being criminally probed for possible corruption concerning the transaction.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon has also slammed Netanyahu for circumventing him in purchasing the submarines.
But Amidror, who is the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, said this has been a regular fight between other prime ministers and the defense establishment, implying that the premiers have had a broader strategic view of the submarines’ role than some in the security establishment.
One area where he said that it had become more important for the navy to project power and provide security regarded Israel’s sea-based natural gas reserves.
Turning to the skies, he said that the “F-35 [fifth-generation combat aircraft] gives the IDF a new capability… like when the Phantom aircraft arrived” decades ago, changing Israel from weak to strong in airpower.
Amidror said the F-35 “cockpits will now have information that in the past could only be found back in headquarters,” suggesting this would “change the way the air force works.”
The former National Security Council chief implied that the fuller picture for pilots would eventually lead air force headquarters to delegate more authority to F-35 pilots to take action where higher level approvals might have been required in the past.
Reviewing a range of other unpredictable issues that could come up in future wars, Amidror said that “drones will have a much bigger impact even than they do” currently, maybe even exceeding major forces driven and piloted by humans. But he implied that how big that impact will be could be one of the largest wild cards.
In the cyber arena, he said that even as the IDF is investing huge resources, neither it nor any other body “knows exactly how to build a complete defense.”
This is even more crucial than in the past because the IDF has become far more networked, such that any hacking of the network or of networked weapons could be a major problem, he said.