This article is in response to RCW’s Rodger Shanahan, which you can read here.
First, let me say, Baruch Hashem, both pilots survived the crash, and no other losses have been reported.
Beyond being a response, it is unfortunate that I have to agree with Rodger’s assessment, in part. While Israel managed to devastate Syrian defenses and reclaim valuable intelligence from Iran’s drone, there is no doubt Hezbollah will use these reports as a rallying tool for further terrorist activities. There are many things we still do not know about this encounter; we do not even know if it was actually anti-aircraft that took down the jet. We do know that no terrorist group is going to lose sleep over a lost drone.
We can only hope examination yields good intel, and that Syria’s defenses are suitably set back. The latter certainly seems to be the case.
But the question, then, is how does the IAF recover from this dent in reputation? In America, we are lucky that more was reported about bombardments against Syria than about the downed aircraft, so the effect is certainly minimal here. I cannot, however, speak for world news. Certainly, Al-Jazeera had much to overstate in their reporting of the incident.
Israel cannot be afraid to roll the dice. The most important tactical advantage they have is the ability to patrol the skies without any interference. The fact that now, even the weakest Arab state can make use of such anti-aircraft technology, is a direct threat to any security in the region, either long-term or short-term. In future engagements, Israel cannot pull punches, and must prove its military superiority. If the government allows Arab perceptions to see the Jewish state as weak, it will directly endanger Israeli lives, and spell failure for the current government as a whole.
Either way, it’s too late now to prevent this mark on IAF invincibility. So far, the government is doing what it’s supposed to do, by engaging in an inquiry. The only resolution now is to counter their Russian missile technology, and then prove why Israel is so powerful to begin with, in any future aggression.