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Israel Defense Force (IDF)

Israel Defence Force (IDF)

Point of Contact - Squadron Duty Officer (SDO)

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Douglas Poster courtesy of Gary Verver

This page is dedicated to
Israeli Air Force Ayit (Skyhawk) Pilots KIA

Israel was the largest customer for export Skyhawks. A contract for 48 was signed 02 June 1966. The first four (A-4Hs) arrived in Israel by ship at the port of Haifa on 19 Decemeber 1967. The IAF Ayit (Eagle) became operational in 1968 and have been used extensively in combat operations since that time. As of mid-2005, advanced IAF pilot training was still being conducted with the A-4N and TA-4J versions, by the "Flying Tiger" Squadron at Hatzerim Air Base.

1971: "...the Skyhawk had proven to be so successful in Israeli service that it actually blurred the differences between "light" and "heavy" [attack]".
page 30 of "Israeli A-4 Skyhawk Units In Combat" by Shlomo Aloni.

AUG 1971: "Crystal" were upgraded A-4E and A-4H with higher rated engines, a heads-up display, and improved weapons/navigation systems.

08 DEC 2004:
Advanced Israel Air Force A-4 Performs its Inaugural Flight!

RADA Electronic Industries Ltd. announced that the first upgraded Israel Air Force (IAF) A-4 "Ayit" had successfully completed its first flight. The A-4 "Ayit" is the IAF's advanced trainer. The upgraded aircraft has new electronics and the upgrade program was to be completed by the third quarter of 2005.

Per Defense Industry Daily 03-Aug-2009 :
"storied land-based career with the Israeli Air Force, who used this simple, pilot-friendly aircraft from late 1967 onward as a versatile attack aircraft with surprising air-air teeth"

"Some are in storage or used as specialty platforms, others have been sold or leased to private operators, and the Flying Tiger Squadron at Hatzerim Air Base still use their A-4Ns and 2-seat TA-4Js for advanced IAF Lead-In Fighter Training."

"The "Ayit" is a much-beloved jet in the Israeli Air Force. The little A-4 agility coupled with an equally surprising ability to take battle damage, made it a popular and reliable choice over several wars. The type was used heavily in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and the Israeli fleet took correspondingly heavy loses: of 102 aircraft lost, 53 were Ayits.

"That war was not without its moments of distinction. In one engagement, an Israeli A-4 Ayit found itself facing 3 MiG-21s. The maneuverable little A-4 turned on them and brought 2 of them down, and was reportedly on the 3rd Fishbed’s tail when an IAF Mirage IIIC zipped through and blasted the MiG out of the sky."

"33 of the Ayits (Skyhawks) had been sold to Indonesia."

"2000-2001 saw a handful of Israeli Ayits (Skyhawks) sold to corporate operators in BAE and ATSI."

"A number of A-4E/H/N aircraft are currently stored at Ovda Air Base, some planes have been used as electronic warfare support aircraft, others have been sold or leased to contractors like ATAC, and as noted earlier, the “Flying Tigers” of 102 Squadron at Hatzerim Air Base still use their A-4Ns and 2-seat TA-4Js for advanced IAF pilot training."

"Surviving Israeli aircraft required maintenance, which was being provided by the contractor Kanfei Tahzuka via Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Unfortunately, the little plane that could appears to have finally met its match. A scandal has grounded Israel’s "Ayit" fleet – and is about to lead to its replacement."

In-service with IAF as front-line a/c:

A-4H Ayit and A-4N Ayit
Y1990=135 Y1995=180 Y2000=180 Y2001=180
Y2002=110 Y2006=39 Y2008=39 Y2010=39

TA-4J Ayit
Y1990=17 Y1995=20 Y2000=18 Y2001=17 Y2002=17
Y2006=16 Y2008=16 Y2010=16 Projected Y2015=16 Projected Y2020=16

TA-4H Ayit
Y2990=6 Y1995=10 Y2000=9 Y2001=9 Y2002=9
Y2006=10 Y2008=10 Y2010=10 Projected Y2015=10 Projected Y2020=10

Note from webmaster: Y2012, estimate of Skyhawks still flying in Israel for training, Electronic Warfare work, and other missions is; excess of 30 A-4N and about 15 TA-4J/H.

APR 2014: Latest releasable information is that they expect to maintain Skyhawk operations at this level at least until July of 2014, when replacement Aermacchi M-346 trainers expect to start coming on line. The latest plan calls for 1/3 fleet replacement this summer, 1/3 around the 1st of January 2015, and final fleet retirement in July of 2015. Estimate: Just about 20 A-4N and 22 TA-4J/H AyitM’s

Skyhawk Deliveries to Israel:
1968: 48 A-4H BuNo 155242 thru 155289
1969: 34 A-4H BuNo 157395 thru 157428
1969: 8 A-4H BuNo 157918 thru 157925
1969: 6 TA-4H BuNo 157429 thru 157434
1969: 4 TA-4H BuNo 157926 thru 157929
1971: 60 Former USA Navy A-4E; BuNo 151189, BuNo ??
NOV 1972: 117 A-4N BuNo 158726 thru 158743 & 159035 thru 159052, 159075 thru 159098, 159515 thru 159545 & 159799 thru 159824
1972 to 1973: 4 TA-4F (Ex USA Navy)
OCT 1973: 30 A-4E/F (Ex USA Navy)
NOV/DEC 1973: 16 A-4E/F (Ex USA Navy)
1974: 11 TA-4H BuNo 159546 thru 159556
1974: 17 TA-4J (Ex USA Navy)
1992-1994: 3 TA-4J 747, 748, 749 Ex-US Navy (7 others were rejected)
2005: A number of stored A-4E/H/N aircraft are located at Ovda Air Base.

Skyhawk Sales (50):
1980: 14 A-4E Sold to Indonesia
1980: 2 TA-4H Sold to Indonesia (BuNo 157429 and 157430)
1981: 1 A-4E Sold to Indonesia - possibly BuNo151189.
1982: 16 A-4E Sold to Indonesia
2000: 4 A-4N (305, 335, 373) Sold to BAE Systems
2001: 2 TA-4F (748, 749) Sold to ATSI in USA
2001: 1 TA-4J (251) Sold to ATSI in USA
2001: 10 A-4N (321, 344, 413, ?) Sold to ATSI in USA

Reported Skyhawk retirements:
10 A-4s to the target range.
IAF Museums; A-4E #885, A-4E #891, A-4F #611, A-4H #222, A-4H #230, A-4H #261, A-4H #270, A-4N #230, A-4N #379, TA-4J #747 and #328 at the Ramat David display.

Due to the tight security surrounding the IAF little information is available concerning unit deployment and activities. As time passes we hope to include more data on the "Ayit"s service in Israel. An additional issue is the matter of translation from Hebrew to English. An example is the use of "smashing", or "shattering", or "crushing" in the name of the one particular squadron.

  • Amos Dor (Flying-Wing Squadron)
  • Todd Frommelt
  • REF: Israeli A-4 Skyhawk Units In Combat by Shlomo Aloni. (Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 81) first printed 2009. ISBN 13;978 1 84603 430 5

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