Opening Strike

Damaging a Rocket Launcher in Southern Lebanon Opening Strike

The “Valley” squadron embarked on an attack within Lebanon


Opening Strike

F-16 Planes in Form Six years ago on July 13, the IAF began Operation “Density”. In less than an hour, a significant portion of Hezbollah long-distance rockets were destroyed. The Commander of the IAF’s northern base, who at the time was an F-16 formation commander, tells us about the first moments of the war

Lilach Gonen

“When the order arrived, it didn’t take me long to understand that it won’t be another ordinary day at the formation. It was something big that we had practiced for a while”, says Colonel Nir, who today operates as commander of Ramat David Airbase, the IAF’s most northern base. In the summer of 2006, he was commander of F-16 squadron ‘The Valley’, which went on various combat operations in the depths of Lebanon, haunting after rocket storages, destroying launching facilities, intersection patrols and more.

The mission that opened the war was Operation “Density”, in which the IAF attacked the long distance rocket formation of the Hezbollah. In a short while, combat formations of the Force went out for combat takeoffs in Lebanon in order to minimize the rocket showers aimed at Israel. Amongst other things Zelzal-2 Iranian missiles which could reach distances of 120-160 kilometers were destroyed.

The first hours after the kidnapping of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were particularly intense. Brigadier General Amikam Norkin, today Head of Aerial Formations who then operated as Commander of the IAF Operational Headquarters remembers: “A former Commander of Ramat David called me and said, ‘Perhaps I should arm one or two planes and we can start the attack?’. I said, ‘Arm every F-16 in the base’. All I heard for a moment was silence and then he said ‘copy that’. That’s how the war began”.

It Won’t End There

“We practiced this operation very intensely and we were very familiar with it”, says Colonel Nir. “Throughout the turmoil and making the formation operational, I managed to call home and talk to my wife, to tell her to take good care of the children. I realized something big was happening if we got the order to conduct this particular flight and that it probably wouldn’t end there”.

The opening strike of the 2006 Lebanon War is added to the long list of IAF operations that opened the historic wars of the State of Israel. “The key solution in these takeoffs, and especially in the opening attacks is to reach professional operation status in an almost automatic manner”, explains Colonel Nir. “These are the things you have to know inside and out. You have to know exactly what it needs to look like, to never be surprised”.