I'd like to react today on one of the week-end news. The French Defense Minister (Michelle Alliot-Marie, dubbed MAM), announced that Israeli F15 fighters, violating Lebanon air space, proceeded to fake attacks on French units, both Army and Navy. The fighter pairs went in mock dive bombing passes over a French fort in Southern Lebanon. Even worse, according to Sea & Navy, they did the same on a French frigate, the Courbet, as well as several German units patrolling the Lebanese coast. Why is it worse? Well, as for the Army units, serving Mistral anti-aircraft missiles, they had the choice not to take the threat seriously and avoid pulling the trigger (which would have certainly ended in a disastrous "border incident"). Which they did, receiving the order to abort launch a couple of seconds before firing.
The Navy units are a much more dangerous stuff. Indeed, to protect multi-million euros ships such as a patrol frigate, engineers have relied on their crews, of course, highly trained and motivated, but also on automatic response systems. These systems are set up to engage any target entering a certain dangerous "envelope" and destroy it, even if the humans on board haven't realized it. Which means, unless the crew has marked the aircrafts as "friendly", the onboard missile systems (Crotale anti-aircraft, similar to the US Hawks) will take them out. As it seems, the French crew had detected the Israeli aircrafts and made sure they were not shot by the frigate defense system. But one might wonder what would have happened if the F15 had actually surprised the Courbet! Unlikely as it may be, that is always possible, as the Argentinian Air Force proved during the Falkland War.
This is a huge political risk. It is absolutely unacceptable, of course, that Israel violates the Lebanese air space, but it is even worse that its Air Force targets allied units whose presence is actually intended to protect its own border. What is worse is that Israel is doing something which it wouldn't allow any of the said allies to do to its own units. This kind of arrogance is not only dangerous for the individuals involved, it is extremely damaging for the Israel position in the public opinion in France in particular and in Europe in general. Tsahal would do good to keep its men in controle...