Thunder over the Med! Israel’s 73rd. anniversary flypast

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On April 15, 2021 the Israeli nation celebrated 73 years since their independence. To mark the anniversary a fleet of aircraft from the Zroa HaAvir VeHahalal (Israel’s Air & Space Arm or Israeli Air Force-IAF) and some paramilitary and civilian types, completed a flypast over several cities of the country. After a hard year and now with some of the coronavirus restrictions having been lifted, the flyover was tagged by the Israel Defense Forces as a “salute” to its citizens, whilst last year’s parade was determined to be a salute to all medical health professionals, due to the onset of COVID-19.

The flyby known as the matas is very popular and a strong feature of the Independence Day celebrations; specially on the nation’s coastal areas, where people gather outdoors by beaches or parks to observe the aircraft formations and have a barbecue or family meal.

Here’s a brief gallery of images of the aircraft seen by the beautiful Tel Aviv’s waterfront. All images by Ian Scott unless stated.

The Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-707 (707-3P1C – c/n 21334) air refuelling tanker named Re’em (Oryx/ ראם)- registration number 275 – leads a formation of three Lockheed Martin F-16i Sufa (Storm). (Ian Scott)
These Lockheed Martin F-16i Sufa (Storm/ סופה) seen here armed with air-to-air missiles fitted on their wing tips and ventral and Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) installed on both sides of the upper fuselage. These tanks made in Israel, increase the fuel carrying capacity of the jets by 50% (Ian Scott)
Fitted with a “Flying Boom” the Boeing KC-707 air refuelling jet in service since 1972, should get some assistance soon, as the Israeli Air Force has two Boeing KC-46 (based on a 767 fuselage) air tankers on order.(Ian Scott)
As advance pilot training aircraft, the IAF has a fleet of 30 italian built Leonardo M-346 Lavi (Young Lion/ לביא) jets, serving on the Advance Flying Squadron. Here the formation is led by M-346 registration 102 (serial number 00001, delivered on March 2014). (Ian Scott)
The two seater Lockheed Martin F-16i Sufa have the APG-68 radar fitted. Several are attached to the 109/117 Squadrons at Ramat David Air Base. (Ian Scott)
In service since 2016, the stealth multi role combat Lockheed Martin F-35i Adir (Mighty/ אדיר) powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F-135 augmented turbofan engine, is the most advanced combat aircraft on the IAF fleet. (Ian Scott)
Above & below: The Beechcraft Textron T-6A Texan II Efroni (Lark/עפרוני) has been used by the IAF Flight Academy since July 2009. The US built turboprop trainers replaced the french Fouga Magister jet trainer Tzukit (Monticola/ צוקית)after more that 40 years of service. A fleet of four participated of the celebrations and are seen here whilst performing a looping over Tel Aviv. (Israeli TV)
Two Sikorsky UH-60 Yanshuf (Owl/ ינשוף) medium size helicopters flying alongside the Tel Aviv shore line. Top right of the image is UH-60 registration 582 (c/n 02-26952) in service since 2005. The first batch of the elsewhere known Blackhawks were a donation from the US government and arrived in Israel during 1994. They were immediately put to service alongside a fleet of Bell-212s  Anafa(Heron) אנפה (Ian Scott)
The Boeing (ex McDonnell Douglas) F-15D Baz (Falcon/ בז) registration 980 (s/n 641/D027) is attached to the “The Edge of the Spear Squadron” created in 1948. Its roundel can be seen top of the vertical stabilizer, and a fleet of F-15s B/C/D are stationed at Tel Nof Air Base south of Tel Aviv. (Ian Scott)
F-15 I (“Ra’am”, Hebrew for thunder) tail number 408 (c/n 76/1525) has a proud history. During the “First lebanon War” the aircraft under the command of Captain Shaul Schwartz and navigator Uzi Shapira, shot down a Syrian MIG-21 on June 10, 1982 in the Lebanon Valley.(Ian Scott)
Thundering over the Med! (Ian Scott)
The firefighting team! These US built Air Tractors AT-802F – initially a part of the IAF “Elad” squadron – are since 2016 responsibility of the Israeli Police aerial unit with their operation outsourced to the civilian firm Elbit Systems Ltd. The capability was established in 2011, after a tragic fire in the Carmel ridge area in northern Israel in December 2010. A total of 14 aircraft are operated; here the formation is led by AT-802F registration 4X-AFY (c/n 802-0396). (Ian Scott)
The Sikorsky CH-53 D/Ks Yas’ur (Petrel/ יסעור) heavy lift/assault helicopters have been in service since 1969. (Ian Scott)
A fleet of three twin engined french built AS350B3e Ecureuil belonging to the Israeli police aerial unit, also participated of the festivities. A total of four aircraft obtained in 2016 are operated. Leading the formation was Ecureuil registration 4X-BMN (s/n 8123). (Ian Scott)
A AH-64A Peten ( Cobra/פתן‎) attack helicopter. This version of the Apache – as it is know elsewhere – was received in 1990. The 30 mm (1.18in) M230 Chain Gun can be seen beneath the aircraft and the front – gunner’s – cockpit. The more modern “D” version Apache Longbow Saraph (Seraph/ שרף) is also on strength and operated since 2004. The latter is easily identified by its dome located above the main rotor. (Ian Scott)
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