The backbone of Israeli air superiority
Forthe past 20 years, two combat aircraft types – the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon – have been backbone of the Israel Air & Space Force (IASF). Both the F-15 and the F-16 have been used in some extremely daring missions, including the October 1985 attack on the PLO headquarters in Tunis, some 3,000 km west of Israel. However, the most dangerous mission took place on 7 June 1981, when eight F-16As bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak near Baghdad. It is noteworthy that the Israelis had only declared the F-16 to at low level mainly over Saudi Arabian territory, had to be carried out without air refueling. The youngest pilot of the eight-ship formation was the 27-year-old the tragic Columbia Space Shuttle accident. In the daring raid, named Operation Opera, Ramon piloted an F-16A ‘Netz’ numbered 243 (pictured here at Nevatim AB in May 2015). At the end of 2016, all remaining F-16A/B ‘Netz’ out of a total nine have already been delivered to the IASF. The IASF continues to operate around 120 F-16C/D, (called ‘Barak’) and some 95 F-16I ‘Sufa’, plus around 80 F-15 Eagles of all variants.