Israel Proved in Just 6 Hours Why Its Air Force Is One of the World’s Best

    Michael Peck

    Security, Middle East

    A history lesson. 

    Six hours or so after the first IAF aircraft had soared into the morning sky, Israel had won the Six-Day War. Not that the tank crews and paratroopers on the ground wouldn’t face some hard fighting in the Sinai, the Golan and Jerusalem. But destroying the Arab air forces didn’t just mean that Israeli troops could operate without air attack; it also meant that Israeli aircraft could relentlessly bomb and strafe Arab ground troops, which turned the Egyptian retreat from Sinai into a rout.

    At 7:10 a.m. Israeli time, sixteen Israeli Air Force Fouga Magister training jets took off and pretended to be what they were not. Flying routine flight paths and using routine radio frequencies, they looked to Arab radar operators like the normal morning Israeli combat air patrol.

    At 7:15 a.m., another 183 aircraft—almost the entire Israeli combat fleet—roared into the air. They headed west over the Mediterranean before diving low, which dropped them from Arab radar screens. This was also nothing new: for two years, Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian radar had tracked Israeli aircraft—though never this many Israeli aircraft—taking off every morning on this same flight path, and then disappearing from their scopes before they returned to base. But that morning, instead of going home, the Israeli armada of French-made Mirage and Super Mystere jets turned south toward Egypt, flying under strict radio silence and just sixty feet above the waves.

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