The first base established by the IAF, home of the fighter squadrons that lead the operational activity in the force and the home of the IAF’s Flight Academy which trains dozens of aircrew members every year: the southern Hatzerim AFB celebrates 50 years of activity

Tal Giladi

Many people seated in the crowd symbolize different eras of activity. The IAF’s senior command of the past and present, young flight cadets beside battle hardened airmen. Past and present officers and enlisted servicemen and women from the Maintenance, Flight and Administrative Divisions. Together they all celebrated 50 years of tireless activity for the benefit of Israel’s security in Hatzerim AFB.

50 Years of Hatzerim

Archive Photo

Past, Present & Future
Hatzerim was the first base established by IAF personnel. Before it was built, the IAF operated from bases the British Mandate left behind. “Vision, planning and hard work, all came together and built a magnificent base of international quality. With a novel operational point of view, advanced infrastructure was established while leaving space for potential growth in the future”, said Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander.

You could say that Hatzerim AFB combines the past, present and future perfectly: its close neighbor, the IAF museum which houses heritage IAF aircraft, symbolizes the past. The present is the relentless operational activity the base house and the Flight Academy, which produces the future aircrews of the force, is the future.

“Unique and complex operational activity, reconnaissance and interception sorties, the first WSO sorties in the advanced ‘Lavi’ (M-346) instruction jet, discussions about norms and values, learning and debriefing. All of these are just a small part of the activity this base has seen in the past week”, proudly stated Brig. Gen. Avshalom, the AFB Commander.

50 Years of Hatzerim

Archive Photo

Welcome to Hatzerim AFB
On October 3, 1966 the base was opened as a wing and its first commander was the late Col. Yosef (Joe) Alon. The Flight Academy was the first to call Hatzerim AFB home and the graduates of Flight Course 51, who began their studies in Tel-Nof AFB, were the first to receive their wings on Hatzerim AFB’s parade ground.

In August 1969, the “Desert Birds” transport helicopter Squadron arrived at the wing as an instruction squadron for the helicopter division cadets. During the “War of Attrition” the “Flying Tiger” Squadron which operated the A-4 “Skyhawk” and today operates the “Lavi”, was also moved to the base.

50 Years of Hatzerim

Archive Photo

Operational Revolution
The re-establishment order of the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron in Hatzerim AFB as F-4 “Phantom” Squadron was given on June 1971. Upon the establishment of the squadron, from a base that was mostly occupied with the Flight Academy, Hatzerim began moving towards the operational center of the IAF.

In 1991, the “Hammers” Squadron which operated F-4 “Phantom” moved from Ramat-David in the north to Hatzerim AFB in the south. The celebratory move was commemorated by an extravagant aerial demonstration of 24 aircraft that flew above Haifa, Tel-Nof and Nevatim. A month later, they already took off for their first strike from their new home. The integration of the “Ra’am” (F-15I) into the squadron in 1998, as the IAF’s strategic aircraft in the past 15 years, caused a revolution in the AFB’s infrastructure and level.

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