(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

A large veil of secrecy lies above the Israeli Air Force (IAF – or Heyl Ha'Avir). The air arm is combat proven at an extremly high degree, but due to the sensitivity of their operations only very few information is being spread. Despite these conditions the visit to Nevatim and Hatzerim was very worthwhile.

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Where? Southern Israel
When? October 2012

Up close and personal to F-15I Raam's and F-16A/B Netz fighter jets the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in the Negev desert is a rare happening. Combined with great photographic opportunities of transport aircraft and the venerable A-4 Skyhawk this journey on two major IAF airbases proved to be outstanding.

Nevatim has been the main airbase for pilot training on the F-16A and F-16B "Netz" aircraft since 2003. While the F-16 was being used as one of the the IAF's main frontline fighter jets in the 1980's – most probably well known by their role in Operation Opera, the attack on Osirak nuclear reactor in Iran – the "Netz" is nowadays the backbone for fighter pilot training in the IAF.

1Israel F 16 5442 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel F 16 5442 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5297 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5333 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5385 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5408 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5459 Zeitler 100 67 85
1Israel F 16 5155 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel F 16 5155 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5140 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5142 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5147 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5358 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5490 Zeitler 100 67 85

Though not up to the most modern standards, the jets provides the students with a light, agile and cheap platform perfectly adopted to train aerial engagements as well as ground attacks. To bring the future pilots up to full speed "The Defenders of the South Squadron" as well as the "Golden Eagle Squadron" fly numerous missions a day in the vast airspace directly above the airspace for their training thus efficiently using their flying hours without the need for long transfers to a training area.

Israel F 16 5168 Zeitler 700 470 90
Israel F 16 5168 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5175 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5276 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5288 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5464 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5501 Zeitler 100 67 85
1Israel F 16 5252 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel F 16 5252 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5197 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5203 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5215 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5239 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5250 Zeitler 100 67 85
1Israel F 16 5119 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel F 16 5119 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5091 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5095 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5102 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5111 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 16 5129 Zeitler 100 67 85

In recent years the Nevatim airbase has been largely expanded to welcome the transport and refuelling units formerly based at Tel Aviv's international "Ben Gurion" airport. The Boeing 707 tanker aircraft of the "Desert Giants" Squadron as well as the many different versions of C-130 Hercules aircraft of the "The Knights of the Yellow Bird" and the "Elephants" Squadron share today a large apron together with the Gulfstream G550 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft of the Nahshon Squadron.

 

1Israel KC 707 5044 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel KC 707 5044 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5042 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5050 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5219 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5697 Zeitler 100 67 85
1Israel KC 707 5063 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel KC 707 5063 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5055 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5581 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel KC 707 5627 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel C 130 5076 Zeitler 700 470 90
Israel C 130 5076 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel C 130 5220 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel C 130 5525 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel C 130 5539 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel C 130 5602 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel C 130 5619 Zeitler 100 67 85

Hatzerim might be well known to the regulars on this site due to the graduation ceremony held at the very same location twice a year. Apart from that event the airfield forms the second pillar of flight training for Israeli pilots as it hosts the units operating the T-6 Texan II ("Efroni") as well as the A-4 Skyhawk ("Ahit").

1Israel A 4 5424 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel A 4 5424 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5350 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5355 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5741 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5774 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5903 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5230 Zeitler 700 470 90
Israel A 4 5230 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5252 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5255 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5324 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5362 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5893 Zeitler 100 67 85

The A-4N and TA-4J Skyhawkys of the "Flying Tiger" Squadron will soon by replaced by the Aermacchi M346, providing in the IAF's view a proper tool for the advanced IAF pilot training, especially when looking at the subsequent ease of ransformation into a modern fighter jet's glass cockpit.

1Israel A 4 5420 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel A 4 5420 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5415 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5451 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5454 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5560 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 6015 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5566 Zeitler 700 470 90
Israel A 4 5566 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5580 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5581 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5586 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5595 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel A 4 5599 Zeitler 100 67 85

At the dawn of its career that started as a 'bomb truck' during the Yom Kippur war it was a real treat to still see dozens of these aircraft lining up on the runway and take-off for training missions.

The spearhead of the IAF's long range strike is the F-15I Ra'am (thunder) is also based at Hatzerim. 25 aircraft are in service with the "Hammers" Squadron that has its heritage in operating three B-17 Flying Fortress and after years of flying the F-4 Phantom II " Kurnass" (sledgehammer) the state-of-the-art F-15Is arrived in 1998. Just as any other IAF asset they receive regular upgrades, the most obvious one in recent years being modifications of a prominent bulb behind the canopy covering a Satcom-antenna.

Israel F 15I 5383 Zeitler 700 470 90
Israel F 15I 5383 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5395 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5407 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5442 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5460 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5489 Zeitler 100 67 85
1Israel F 15I 5551 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel F 15I 5551 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5505 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5515 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5519 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5530 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5879 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5603 Zeitler 700 470 90
Israel F 15I 5603 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5611 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5906 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5922 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5947 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 5955 Zeitler 100 67 85
1Israel F 15I 6071 Zeitler 700 470 90
1Israel F 15I 6071 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 6041 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 6046 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 6103 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 6126 Zeitler 100 67 85
Israel F 15I 6142 Zeitler 100 67 85

HIGHER RESOLUTION IMAGES

Photos in higher resolution of this visit can be found in collections on the photosites --> airliners.net <-- and --> airfighters.com <-- (these links will open in new windows)

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