Israel gave UK rockets from own stockpile
ISRAEL SUPPLIED guided missiles to UK forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in a last-minute deal that saved the lives of British troops.
In a highly unusual move, Israel sourced the Tammuz rockets from its own strategic stockpile in response to an urgent British request in 2007.
New details on the tie-up were published this week in Haaretz. The first Tammuz launchers sent to Basra in Iraq were also mounted on hastily repainted IDF armoured personnel carriers.
The Tammuz missile was originally developed as an anti-tank weapon in the mid-1970s as part of the Israeli military’s lessons from the Yom Kippur War, when large Egyptian and Syrian armoured formations nearly overwhelmed Israel in a surprise attack. It remained officially secret in Israel until 2011.
As an easily deployable system with high accuracy and a range of 20km, it evolved into a key weapon in the fight against small and mobile terror cells.
The British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan needed a missile that could be used to protect its patrols and convoys around Basra and Helmand province.
The nature of the threats f a c e d by t he British troops — ambushes by al-Qaeda and Taliban mortar teams, and remotely controlled explosive devices — meant that enemy fighters were usually out of sight or range, and air cover was not always readily available.
The Tammuz was judged to be the only missile that could effectively counter that threat. However, by 2007, Rafael, the Israeli defence contractor that had developed and manufactured the missile, had ended production. As part of the strategic alliance between the two countries, the Israeli government authorised a highly irregular drawdown on the IDF’s own emergency stockpile and provided 14 M-113 APCs with Tammuz launchers and 600 missiles.
The successful deployment of the Tammuz, named by the Royal Artillery Exactor Mk 1, led to a follow-up order for a special Mk-2 version, for which Rafael opened a new production line.
In many cases, the Exactor was used in conjunction with Israelimade Elbit Hermes 450 surveillance drones, also operated by the British Army.
The British government has never officially confirmed that it uses the Exactor. However, it remains an integral part of the Royal Artillery’s arsenal, long after British troops have left Iraq and Afghanistan. The new Israeli-designed Watchkeeper WK450 drone, manufactured jointly by Elbit and French defence corpo- ration Thales, is also in use by the British army. British officers regularly visit Israel for training courses on these systems.
TheTammuz was judged to be the only effective counter to the Taliban
Israeli soldier with a Tammuz launcher