Middle East Studies

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Sword and Shield of Zion

The Israel Air Force in the Arab–Israeli Conflict, 1948–2012

David Rodman is the author of Defense and Diplomacy in Israel's National Security Experience: Tactics, Partnerships, and Motives (2005) and Arms Transfers to Israel: The Strategic Logic behind American Military Assistance (2007). He has also published articles on the Arab−Israeli conflict in various professional journals, including Middle Eastern Studies, The Journal of Strategic Studies, MERIA Journal, Israel Affairs, Defence Studies, and Air & Space Power Chronicles.

The Israel Air Force (IAF) has accumulated as much battle experience as any air force in the world during the post-Second World War era, and it has recorded many outstanding accomplishments throughout a seemingly endless string of interstate wars, asymmetrical wars, counterinsurgency campaigns, and special operations.

This book examines the IAF’s experience in the Arab–Israeli conflict from the establishment of Israel in 1948 to the present day. It analyzes this experience through the prisms of maneuver warfare, attrition warfare, counterinsurgency warfare, special operations, and humanitarian operations. The book reviews the IAF's performance in such wars as the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1969–70 War of Attrition, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and the 2008–9 Gaza War.

The book also scrutinizes the IAF’s participation in major counterinsurgency campaigns and special operations, traces the air force's experience with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which have occupied a very prominent place in air operations since the 1982 Lebanon War, and chronicles its experience with anti-aircraft defenses and satellites. Up-to-date information on the IAF’s bases, squadrons, and other infrastructure is provided as well. The book is based on personal visits to the IAF over the past few years, during which the author had the opportunity to tour bases, listen to lectures and briefings, and speak with numerous retired, reserve, and active duty officers.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-583-0
Hardback Price: £37.50 / $50.00
Release Date: May 2013
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-653-0
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: October 2014
Page Extent / Format: 168 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


List of Abbreviations
List of Illustrations

Introduction (Part I): Israeli National Security and Airpower

Introduction (Part II): Israeli Airpower and the Arab–Israeli Conflict

1. Airpower and Maneuver Warfare: The Israel Air Force
in the 1967 and 1973 Wars

2. Airpower and Attrition Warfare: The Israel Air Force
in the 1969–70, 2006, and 2008–09 Wars

3. Airpower, Counterinsurgency, Special Operations, and
Humanitarian Operations: The Israel Air Force between
Arab–Israeli Wars

4. An Airborne Revolution in Military Affairs: Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles in Israel Air Force Service

5. Ground-based Air Defense and Space-based Reconnaissance:
Other War-related Responsibilities of the Israel Air Force

6. The Infrastructure of the Israel Air Force: Bases and Squadrons

Conclusion: The Past and Future Contributions of Airpower to
Israeli National Security

Appendix: The Historical Evolution of the Israel Air Force's
Fighter-Bomber Inventory

Selected Bibliography
About the Author

A fascinating account of the Israel Air Force (IAF), one of the world’s best air forces and the heart of Israel's national security. Rodman traces the history and performance of the IAF in the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War and the asymmetrical battles in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008. He devotes special attention to humanitarian operations, such as the rescue of Ethiopian Jewry, counterinsurgency campaigns, and the IAF's now vital role in air defense, including the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. The book concludes with a description of the IAF’s possible future contributions to Israel's national security and will be of considerable value both for those interested in Israeli national security specifically and airpower generally.
Professor Chuck Freilich, former Deputy Israeli National Security Adviser

The best available book on the transformation of the Israel Air Force from a small, ramshackle outfit into one of the world's best air forces. A must read.
Professor Efraim Karsh, Middle East & Mediterranean Studies Programme, King’s College London and author of Palestine Betrayed

A slim but detailed volume containing a striking amount of analysis of the function and importance of the IAF in the overall defensive strategy and capabilities of the State of Israel, Sword and Shield of Zion will be of considerable interest to students of airpower. ... A close reading will prove rewarding in terms of understanding the prowess and strategic doctrine of the IAF. Clearly, anyone who has an interest in the IAF and its activities will find Sword and Shield worthwhile.
United States Air Force Research Institute (AFRI)

David Rodman has written a useful introduction to the IAF's current (through 2012) and possible future roles in guaranteeing Israeli national security. It will appeal to both defense professionals and interested lay readers.
Christopher Rein, Michigan War Studies Review

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
International Specialized Book Services
Direct sales tel.: 1 800 944 6190; email:
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab

eBook Ordering
e-Book publication (e-PDF and MobiPocket [Kindle]) availability is detailed under the Resources tab; availability is alerted by e-Book in the publication information field on the web page