The element of surprise has always been a significant component in the success of the IAF’s greatest operations. On a day completely devoted to practical jokes, it’s good to remember some of the great moments in which the IAF surprised the enemy

Eilon Tohar | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

In early 1970 a change in the Syrian policy toward the “War of Attrition” which was being fought in the Egyptian and Syrian fronts began. The policy change was manifested in the creation of increasing escalation of the situation in the Northern front and mostly in the Golan Heights area, by artillery attacks, disruption of fortification attempts and shelling of observation and flight infrastructure near the border. In Israeli it was decided to signal Syria to restrain its actions by way of an operation, with an original concept which would create deterrence and cause panic among the enemy, with minimum threat to human life.

On January 6, 1970, a pair of F-4 “Phantoms” took off from the “Hammers” Squadron in the Ramat-David AFB, crossed the border into Lebanon and flew toward the city of Al-Zabadani in Syria. The jets flew over the city while accelerating to a speed of Mach 1.15 – and created a sonic boom.

Three weeks later, the Syrian response arrived, when a MiG-21 created a low altitude sonic boom over Haifa and caused glass panes to shatter and minor injuries to a young woman. The IAF responded spontaneously and similarly when it created a sonic boom over Damascus. As a result of the escalation in the situation it was later decided to discontinue the execution of sonic booms on both fronts.

Anyway, the operation, known in the IAF as Operation “Hed 2” (Echo 2) was a manifestation of creative thinking which led the IAF to “prank” the enemy, while causing minimal damage to uninvolved civilians and leaving it surprised.

Not Only on April Fools: Surprising the Enemy

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Cut the Sky
In 1956 Israel took part in the Anglo-French campaign against Egypt by means of a sophisticated plan which was meant to trick the enemy: “The Voice of Israel” broadcasted a concise IDF Spokesperson announcement, according to which IDF forces took position near the Suez Canal and attacked “Fadayeen” units, in order to create the impression that it was a retaliation act.

According to plan, “Dakota” and “Meteor” aircraft performed deception operations in different parts of Egypt, by staging flight routes and parachuting decoy dolls in a number of sites. The challenge was to parachute the combatants of the 890 paratroops battalion without being compromised and this is where the “Mustang” aircraft which served the IAF then, came in to the picture – with the goal of disconnecting the telephone lines in the Sinai Peninsula and disrupting the Egyptian army’s communication, in order to confirm it’s unawareness. Code name: Operation “Scissors”.

In order to surprise the Egyptians, many days of preparations preceded the operation. The preparations were so classified that only the central partners knew about their existence. In order to train for the operation, a hidden facility was specially built in order to simulate the four telephone poles and the copper wires in between them. This was how ripping them was trained by heavy weights which were attached to the Mustang’s tails.

The command was to complete the mission at all costs and the operation indeed did not work as planned. While performing the mission, the cables which were connected to the aircraft disconnected before they were able to rip the telephone cables. The first pair managed to improvise and cut the cable with the aircraft’s propeller, a move inspired by a flight cadet who disconnected phone cables with his propeller in training. The second pair managed to rip the cables with the aircraft’s wing. This was the diversion which launched Operation “Kadesh”, also known as the “Sinai War”.

Not Only on April Fools: Surprising the Enemy

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The Hall of Fame
One of the IAF’s most famous “surprise” operations was Operation “Moked”, which launched the 1967 “Six Day” War, in which the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian Air Forces were completely paralyzed thanks to years of practical training and the inability of the opposing countries to expect the blow the IAF dealt them from the air. All in all, 70 percent of the conflicted countries fighter aircraft order of power was destroyed on the first day.

Operation “Rooster 25” which was executed in the War of Attrition also included a fair amount of creativity, secrecy and daring, in which – by way of helicopters two vehicles were positioned in order to execute a mounted ambush on the main traffic way across the Egyptian border. The operation was executed by trio of “Super Frelon” helicopters that took off in the evening full of the Paratroopers Brigade elite unit, two armed jeeps and a patrol jeep. Despite the discovery of the helicopters by Egyptian radar, the force’s exact location was not discovered. They went on to a successful mission in which they destroyed an Egyptian jeep.

Other memorable operations were 1985 Operation “Wooden Leg” in which the IAF attacked the PLO terror HQ in Tunis by means of an octet of “Baz” (F-15) jets, in what is considered the IAF’s farthest attack sortie since its establishment; and Operation 1981 “Opera”, in which the IAF attacked and destroyed the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor. The operation took place on Sunday morning, which was the resting day for the French technicians that worked in the reactor. The H hour was also not coincidental, 30 minutes before sunset in the area. The Operation was of course successful.

Not Only on April Fools: Surprising the Enemy

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