The squadron’s technical crew receives the first helicopter. Photo: Lior Dayan The first trio of the “Saraph” (The Israeli Apache-Longbow configuration) helicopters arrives and joins the ranks of the IAF combat helicopters. In a festive ceremony, in the presence of the minister of defence, Shaul Mofaz, his vice, Zeev Boim, the ambassador of the United States’ attendee, Gene Kurtz, the chief of staffs, Lt. Gen. Moshe (“Boogie”) Ya’alon and commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Elyezer Shkedi.
The ministry of defence stated, “The “Saraph” helicopter holds uncompromised quality in man and machine. Today, that is the label of our air force. I have no doubt that our pilots’ abilities will bring this instrument to the full extent of its potential”
The chief of staffs, Lt. Gen. Ya’alon, added “The “Saraph”’s arrival represents yet another step in building the air force’s power as the IDF’s strategic force. True is Ben-Gurion in saying that not the gun, the cannon or the plane will fight and win but the man’s ability to fight. The winning combination between the man and the weapon system is the air force’s secret.“
The ceremony opened with the flight of three “Saraph” helicopters escorted by two Apache helicopters. Prior to the aircraft’s landing in the ceremonial courtyard, the lt. commander spoke over the operational comm. system saying “I’m proud to pilot the “Saraphs” first official flight in Israel”
Maj. Gen. Elyezer Shkedi, command of the IAF said “In middle east saturated with struggles, we were obligated to constantly examine our operational abilities in accordance to the ever-shifting reality. A new type of a combat helicopter and a brother to the “Pethen” (Apache), a helicopter that proved itself in the ongoing and unsettling activity against terror. The “Saraph” is a step up and a new territory opener for the IAF. Fly in peace and return safely”