TEL AVIV (Jul. 16)
Israel’s Air Force celebrated its 22nd birthday today by demonstrating in public for the first time its ability to refuel its fighter planes in midnight. At the same time, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan expressed fears that the next round between Israel and the Arabs would be in battle and not around the negotiating table. While Israelis and hundreds of visitors from all parts of the world watched, two Skyhawks were refueled from a Stratocruiser tanker during Air Force Day celebrations held “somewhere in Israel.” Gen. Dayan, Chief of the Armed Forces General Haim Bar Lev and Commander of the Air Force General Mordechai Hod, were in the reviewing stand as Israel’s Air Force gave a demonstration of precision, ability and force beginning with fly-by formations of French built Mysteres, Ouragaes, Vautoures and Supermysteres followed by U.S. built Skyhawks and Phantoms and various kinds of helicopters, transports and auxiliary planes including the French Nords and American Dakotas. While helicopter units demonstrated their skills and tactics of troop transport and landings, Israel’s fighter-bombers gave a demonstration of pinpoint machine gun and rocket target fire and another of precision napalm bombing.
The celebration ended with helicopter flybys carrying the national and Air Force flags while Fouga fighters performed aerobatics ending with the marking of the Air Force initials in the blue skies with white smoke. Addressing the passout (graduation) parade of pilot cadets which preceded the air display, Defense Minister Dayan said, “I am afraid that the next round between Israel and the Arabs will not be around the negotiating tables, but in the strongholds, in the skies, in air battles, with missiles and artillery.” Gen. Dayan said that in the near future the Israeli Army may be busy repulsing attacks and invasion attempts but “it is better the struggle for the holding of our lines is waged far away over enemy territory than at the doorstep of Nahal Ozz or with the blood of the children of Kiryat Shemona.” Gen. Hod told the new pilots, “You are joining the Air Force at a time when the eyes of all look with hope at the Air Force. You are young and you add to the roaring wings of the mighty force that protects Israel’s skies. We shall all wear with pride the Defense Wings of Israel.”