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    T-54 tank in the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun

    Israel's Fearsomely Frugal Defense Forces Made Good Use of Captured Weapons

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    Captured enemy equipment was something that helped the Israel Defense Forces fight terrorists and expand Tel Aviv's clout at home and abroad, according to Israeli expert Shay Levy.

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not think twice before using captured materiel for a whole array of purposes, including those related to combating terrorism and increasing Tel Aviv's assertiveness beyond its hotly contested borders, Israeli expert Shay Levy said in an article which was published by the news website Mako.

    In the past few decades, Israeli soldiers have managed to seize tons of enemy hardware, including tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and missiles, which were then used in various military operations by the IDF.

    Soviet-made T-54, T-55, and T-62 tanks, as well as BTR-50, BTR-60 and BMP-1 armored personnel carriers ranked first in terms of the volume of captured enemy hardware, according to Levy.

    All these armored vehicles were seized during Israel's wars with Syria and Egypt in 1967 and 1973, Levy said, adding the tanks were then upgraded and turned into the Israeli Tiran tanks, which remained in service till the late 1990s.

    Achzarit armored personnel carrier
    © Wikipedia / gkirok
    Achzarit armored personnel carrier

    Interestingly, the Israeli Achzarit armored personnel carrier is nothing but a modernized version of the T-55 tank, Levy recalled.

    Tens of thousands of weapons were also captured, including Kalashnikov assault rifles, Dragunov sniper rifles, Kalashnikov machine guns and Soviet-made grenade launchers.

    Two Israeli Army girls sit beneath a road sign, with a tank in the background, somewhere in the Sinai Desert, Oct. 8, 1973
    © AP Photo / Robert Dear
    Two Israeli Army girls sit beneath a road sign, with a tank in the background, somewhere in the Sinai Desert, Oct. 8, 1973

    Even though the IDF decided not to replace their own small arms with those captured during wars, the Kalashnikov assault rifles were put into service at some elite Israel units and over time the Kalashnikov became a weapon of status in Israel, according to Levy.

    As far as the RPG-7 grenade launcher, it finally became a basic weapon in IDF battalions, Levy added, who also touted captured Degtyaryov RPD  machine guns which along with the Kalashnikov machine guns helped Israel fight Palestinian armed groups and other enemies in the 1990s.

    Batey ha-Osef museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. RPD machine gun.
    © Wikipedia / Bukvoed
    Batey ha-Osef museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. RPD machine gun.

    Separately, Levy mentioned Soviet-made Katyusha multiple rocket launchers and an array of the Soviet-made fighter jets, such as the MiG-17, the MiG-21 and the MiG-23 which were captured by the Israeli army in the late 1960s, when Tel Aviv was at war with Egypt and Syria, among other Arab countries.

    The Mikoyan Mig-23 multi-purpose fighter jet
    The Mikoyan Mig-23 multi-purpose fighter jet

    Israel used captured weapons to promote their interests at home and abroad, Levy said, adding that Tel Aviv handed off some of the gear to the South Lebanon Army and Kurdish fighters.

    The MiG-21 supersonic jet fighter
    The MiG-21 supersonic jet fighter

    In addition, many of the seized weapons were sold, which brought hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel's state coffers, Levy concluded.


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    missiles, aircraft, tanks, soldiers, terrorism, equipment, MiG-23, MiG-21, T-55, T-54, Israel Defense Forces, Israel
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