The War Of Attrition Was Furious, And Bloody And Hardly Even Reported.


Israeli Anti Aircraft Crews Watch For Incursions Across The Suez



One of the strangest wars that was ever fought was known as The War of Atrition. It was fought between Israel and the United States on one side and Syria, Egypt, Jordan, the USSR and Cuba on the other side. The War of Attrition was characterized by sporadic furious exchanges and commando raids between combatants, all on the heels of the Israelis decisively besting their Arab neighbors in the Six Day War. The entire War of Attrition was fought in the Israeli occupied Sinai Desert as the Arab nations sought to drive Israel out of the peninsula.


What is forever surprising is how little this three year war is talked about. It involved thousands of sorties against ground and air targets during the three years it was fought from July 1st 1967 to August 7th 1970. The war itself involved all 275,000 reserve Israeli personnel, and 240,000 Arab and Soviet personnel. So we have in the War of Attrition actual Soviets not acting as proxies but fighting the war themselves. Both sides claimed victory in this bloody back and forth that cost the Israelis anywhere from 600 to 1400 killed and 2600 wounded. The Israelis lost anywhere from 14 to 30 planes and the Arab and Soviet forces lost anywhere from 60 to 114 aircraft. Even Cuban troops fought and died in the Sinai. Actual casualty figures were disputed hotly in this theater. 


                                            Egyptian Troops Surrender



The war resembled two UFC fighters who exchang heavy blows and then rest for extended periods. There were only seven battles during the rest of 1967, but they were intense and bloody. When the Egyptians opened up artillery fire against the Israelis on the 14th of July, the Israelis managed to shoot down seven Egyptian aircraft. In October of 1967 the Egyptian Navy managed to sink the Israeli destroyer the Eilat; 47 hands went down


The next year, 1968 saw several key battles. On September 8th, Egyptian artillery kills 10 Israeli solders and injures 18. On October the 30th, Israeli commander, airborne in helicopters, attack and destroy the power grid along the Nile causing Nasser to suspend combat operations until forces were built up and transformers repaired.


In December of that year Israelis fought against Jordanian pilots flying British made Hawker Hunters, and the Jordanians prevailed, damaging an Israeli Phantom.


In 1969, the year began with a thousand raids by the entire Israeli Air Force against massive Soviet built air-defense systems and anti aircraft emplacements on the Northern Suez. On September 9th, the Israelis launched Operation Raviv against Red Sea military installations by the Egyptians. A dozen Egyptian outposts were destroyed, 250 prisoners were taken and a Soviet general was killed. Two days later eight MIGs were shot down during an Egyptian air strike mission, all downed by Israeli flown French built Mirages.


One notable air battle had the Egyptians in possession of advanced P-15 fire control radars. In two days of engagements that the Israelis would have otherwise prevailed, the Egyptians shot down three IAF aircraft. In a daring raid three weeks later, the Israelis capture a P-15 and learn how to defeat it.


The Soviet Union and the United States were wont to come to the negotiating table. Who can blame them? Both military superpowers had their weapons tested for free by their proxies. In the upcoming Cold War years, the results of the Attrition War would make itself shown not at the peace table, but in the bank accounts of weapon systems manufacturers.








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