Iran vs Israel: Who is better equipped for war?

Iran vs Israel: Who is better equipped for war?
Iran vs Israel: Who is better equipped for war? / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews April 13, 2024

The spark has been lit, and the drumbeats of war are sounding in the tumultuous Middle East.

Reports confirm that Iran has launched a barrage of suicide drones, ranging from 30 to 238 in number, against its arch-rival Israel. This assault was accompanied by Iranian hackers allegedly breaching the "Iron Dome" defence system guarding Israeli airspace.

Further missile launches from Iran are expected imminently according to Iranian sources, with more from regional partners also on the table.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has issued a warning: "Israel is ready for Iran's attack and will retaliate without mercy." Iran's Defence Ministry, in turn, has threatened to strike back against any nation that grants Israel access to its airspace or territory for such an assault.

Jordan has already opened its airspace to Israel and US jets that are reportedly already engaging and bringing down Iranian drones.

It is reported that the Israeli "doomsday plane" – a specially equipped aircraft that has never before been utilised – has now taken to the skies, hinting at the potential deployment of nuclear weapons.

At the heart of this escalating crisis lies a crucial question: whose military might holds the upper hand – Iran's or Israel's? On the surface, the numbers favour Iran. With a population of 89mn to Israel's 10mn, Iran boasts a significantly larger pool of potential conscripts, totalling over 41mn versus Israel's just over 3mn. Iran's active military personnel number 610,000, dwarfing Israel's less than 200,000. Even when paramilitary forces and reservists are included, the ratio favours Iran by 1mn to 642,000.

However, raw numbers alone do not tell the whole story. Qualitative factors such as training, technology and morale must also be weighed. In this regard, Israel possesses some distinct advantages. Its military budget of $24.4bn is 2.5 times greater than Iran's $10bn, allowing for more advanced weaponry and superior force readiness. Israel's arsenal includes 612 aircraft to Iran's 551, and 146 helicopters to Iran's 129 (with only 13 Iranian attack choppers against Israel's 48).

While Iran boasts a numerical edge in tanks, rockets and towed artillery, much of this equipment is older and less capable than Israel's technologically superior systems. Furthermore, Israel is believed to have a strategic nuclear triad – the ability to launch nuclear strikes from land, air and sea – giving it a devastating deterrent that Iran cannot match.

Crucially, Israel also enjoys the unwavering backing of the United States. As the conflict erupted, the US moved to deploy the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight Eisenhower and its accompanying strike group towards Israel, a clear signal of Washington's commitment to supporting its ally. This could prove a decisive factor, as the US military's technological edge and global reach tip the scales in Israel's favour.

The path ahead is unclear, and the outcome of this clash of regional titans remains uncertain – as they have never yet gone head to head.

However, Israel's qualitative military advantages, coupled with US support, suggest that the Jewish state may prevail in this high-stakes showdown should the unthinkable unfold. The world watches with bated breath as the stormclouds of war gather over the Middle East.