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Tuesday, 14 May 1957


Mr Bryant t asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   What are the estimated strengths of the military formations in the naval, land and air forces of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, respectively?

2.   What is the composition of their land forces in armoured and infantry units?

3.   With what types of armoured vehicles are they principally equipped?

4.   From what sources have they principally obtained their equipment?


Mr Casey (Minister for External Affairs) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

The estimated strength of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan in terms of forces and equipment is summarized below. The particulars given have been derived from published material of recent origin.

1.   Israel has a regular army of approximately 50,000. In addition the militia, in which all ablebodied adults are enlisted, is kept in a state of readiness. Israel has several hundred tanks most of them dating from the period of World War II. and of American or French origin, although some captured from Egypt in November may be Russian or British. The Israeli air force has over 100 first line aircraft including some jet fighters of British and French design. The Israeli navy has two destroyers and about twenty patrol vessels from Western sources. In addition there is a frigate captured from the Egyptians.

2.   Egypt has a regular army of approximately 100,000 organized in three divisions and an armoured formation. It has several hundred tanks, mostly of Western (British and American) or Russian World War II. types, including some Russian machines of Josef Stalin III. type. There are also some armoured troop carriers of Soviet bloc manufacture. The Egyptian air force lost a number of aircraft on the ground in November last, but as a result of further Russian deliveries may still have well over 100 front line aircraft, including some British but now mostly Russian jet fighters. The Egyptian navy has four destroyers, about 30 patrol vessels and fifteen to twenty motor torpedo boats. These vessels are from both Western and Russian sources.

3.   Syria has a regular army of approximately 30,000. It has a substantial number of Russian medium tanks as well as armoured troop carriers and self propelled guns. The air force has some fighters (both British and Russian in origin) as well as transport and communication aircraft. There is no naval force of any consequence.

4.   Jordan has a regular army of about 20,000 (the former Arab Legion) including an armoured formation, with tanks and armoured cars of British origin. The air force is relatively small, consisting of a dozen fighters and a few general purpose aircraft







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