The Israeli Air Force (IAF) Heyl ha Avir is the Air branch of the Israel Defence Forces.


The IAF was formed when Israel achieved statehood in 1948 and found itself under almost immediate attack. The air force was at first assembled from a hotch-potch collection of civilian aircraft commandeered or donated and converted to military use. A variety of obsolete and surplus ex-World War II combat aircraft were quickly sourced by various clandestine means to supplement this fleet.

During the 1950s, France became a major supplier of warplanes to Israel, but this supply stopped under international pressure at the time of the Six Day War.

From the 1970s onwards, following the Yom Kippur War, most of Israel's military aircraft have been obtained from the United States.

The Israeli Air Force has also operated a small number of domestically-produced types, most famously the IAI Kfir, an unauthorised copy of the French Mirage III adapted to utilise a more powerful US engine.


The insignia of the Israeli Air Force is a blue
Star of David on a white circle. This is usually painted in six positions - on the top and bottom of each wing, and each side of the fuselage. Squadron markings are usually carried on the tail fin.

Records and Highlights

  • June 5, 1967 - the Six Day War: The destruction of the entier Egyptian air-force within 3 hours. By the end of the day - the Syrian and Jordanian air forces were wiped out as well. The IAF shot-down record at the end of the war was 451 enemy aircrafts down vs 10 down of its own.
  • Obtaining the first shot-downs of the American fighter jets, the F-15 and the F-16.
  • 1981: The destruction of the Iraqi Osiraq nuclear reactor. Four IAF F-16 fighters flew to Iraq and bombed the nuclear facilties of Osiraq. Among the pilots that took part in the attack, was the late Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.
  • 1982: the destruction of the entire Syrian air-defence in Lebanon without a single warplane lost.
  • 1985: The bombing of PLO Headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, the longest mission ever undertaken by the IAF.
  • The only documented emergency landing of an F-15 with only one wing.

See also List of aircraft of the Israeli Air Force