The purpose of this paper is to analyze the air strategies used in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. This war is also known as the October War, although Arabs refer to it as the Ramadan War, while the Israelis call it the Yom Kippur War. The conflict began on October 6, 1973, with Egyptian and Syrian attacks against Israeli-held territories in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. Although the Arab forces had strong air defenses in the early part of the war, they were never able to develop an air strategy to maintain the offensive. By contrast, the Israelis made effective use of air power in order to carry out a series of counteroffensives against the Arabs. This was a decisive factor in Israel's attainment of the initiative during the course of the war. In turn, the efficient use of air power led to a successful outcome for Israel at the conclusion of the war.
This paper will compare the strategies of both sides in the war, as well as the role played by air power in the implementation of those strategies. Elements such as objective, doctrine, technology, resources, and leadership will be compared, as well as the adherence by each side to the basic principles of air warfare. In this way, the factors causing the Israeli success will be contrasted with those which led to the Arab failure. The conclusion of this paper will provide suggestions regarding how the Arabs may have reversed their fortunes in the war. The 1973 Arab-Israeli War was chosen as the subject for this analysis because an understanding of that conflict provides a historical perspective on today's military events as they unfold in the Middle East region.
Background to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War
The 1973 October War was the fourth major Arab-Israeli war to occur after the United Nations partition of Palestine in 1947. The first war, known as the Palestine War, broke out because many members of the Arab community rejected this partition which led to the cre...