Is­rael gave UK rock­ets from own stock­pile

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

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

PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA/NATAN FLYER

Is­raeli soldier with a Tam­muz launcher

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