An Israeli military jet pilot shot down two Egyptian Soviet-made advanced MIG-19 jets today in a brief dogfight over Israeli territory, in which a Matra air-to-air missile was used for the first time. Captain A. Michael brought down one of the Soviet-mad jets with the missile and the other with a salvo from his cannons.
The victory was the first time that Israeli fighters had defeated a MIG-19 and the first Israeli-Egyptian air clash since 1961 when Israeli pilots shot down a MIG-17.
The battle, which lasted about two minutes at 15,000 feet, near Nitzana, began when two MIGs went after a Piper scouting plane on a routine reconnaissance mission. Israeli radar picked up the MIGs and orders were sent to an Air Force base. Two Israeli Mirage jets rose to intercept the MIGs.
Initially, two MIG-17 jets entered Israeli territory in pursuit of the Piper which went into evasive action and disappeared without being seen by the Egyptian pilots. The first two MIGs then returned to Egyptian territory.
A few minutes later, two other MIGs, this time the more advanced MIG-19s, flew over Israeli territory in a straight line from Sinai, apparently also searching for the Piper Cub. When the Egyptian pilots sighted the Mirage jets they tried to run off but the 26-year-old Israeli captain moved in too quickly.
Describing the encounter, Captain Michael said that when he received the order to attack, he fired his air-to-air missile at less than a mile distance. He said he saw the missile hit the MIG which exploded into “a mushroom of flame.” Captain Michael then maneuvered toward the second MIG, which was engaged in evasive action, and hit the MIG with a cannon salvo. It crashed into Egyptian territory near the border, the captain said.
For an hour after the clash, MIG-21 jets patrolled near the border but stayed away from Israeli territory. The area has since remained quiet, Israeli officials reported. The Matra missile is standard equipment on French, Australian, South African, Swiss and Israeli aircraft but it has not been used before against live targets.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.