This evening, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel retired from military service after over five years as IAF Commander and was replaced by Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. Maj. Gen. Norkin, who served in a variety of positions in the field and in IAF HQ, headed the IDF Planning Directorate and was the youngest F-15 pilot in the world, will now lead the IDF’s aerial force

Zohar Boneh

A review of Maj. Gen. Norkin’s military service reveals the depth of his acquaintance and knowledge of the IDF in general and IAF in particular. 32 years of service in key positions in the IAF and IDF have prepared him for the coming years in which he will lead the IDF’s strategic long arm.

At the age of 21, Maj. Gen. Norkin, then a young Second Lt., completed his training in the IAF Flight Academy’s Fighter Division with honors. He was assigned to the “Knights of the Twin Tail” Squadron, which operates the “Baz” (F-15) and became the youngest F-15 pilot in the world.

Meet the New IAF Commander

Maj. Gen. in the “Baz” cockpit. Photography: Rubie Castro

After serving in a number of operational positions in the IAF, Maj. Gen. Norkin was appointed Commander of the “Knights of the Twin Tail” Squadron and later headed the “Negev” Squadron’s establishment team in anticipation of the integration of the “Sufa” (F-16I) in 2004. “I feel that great responsibility rests on my shoulders”, shared Maj. Gen. Norkin, then a Lt. Col., in an interview with the IAF Magazine. “I have waited many years for this. I think we succeeded in establishing a squadron that can set an example for other squadrons and units in the IAF”.

As head of the IAF Operations Department during the Second Lebanon War, Maj. Gen. Norkin delved into the field of aerial control. He wrote the command for Operation “Density”, in which the majority of the Hezbollah’s Fajr rocket division was destroyed in 34 minutes. He later commanded Tel-Nof AFB and served as Head of the IAF Air Division and Chief of Air Staff.

Meet the New IAF Commander

Photography: Rubie Castro

In July 2015, Maj. Gen. Norkin was promoted to the rank of Maj. Gen. and was appointed head of the IDF Planning Directorate. “He brought accuracy, detail orientation and uncompromising professionalism alongside total devotion to his position”, shared Col. Eyal, head of the IDF Planning Directorate’s Planning Department, who served under Maj. Gen. Norkin. “All of these don’t allow you to stay behind, you don’t have any other choice besides getting on the wagon with him and moving forward”.

As head of the IDF Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen. Norkin was responsible for consolidating and performing the multi-year “Gideon” plan. “This is a challenging time, but Norkin is leading these processes with determination and decisiveness, a high level of proficiency and rapid learning and deductive capabilities”, Col. Eyal added.

Meet the New IAF Commander

Photography: Rubie Castro

“Those who don’t know him, think his is a serious person”, said Brig. Gen. (Res.) Shmaya Avieli, past commander of Palmahim AFB and a close friend of Maj. Gen. Norkin, with a smile. “He knows how to harmoniously combine seriousness and professionalism with friendship and humor. He is uncompromising with himself. He views things in a clear and conscious way and knows how to make difficult decisions”. 

Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin is an Alumnus of the Israel National Defense College and holds an M.A in Political Science (with honors) from the University of Haifa. He is married and a father of three.