It has more than 150 aircraft, including some from World War II

The Israel Air Force Museum, an aviation gem in the Negev Desert

Israel is a democratic country that has been fighting for its survival since the day of its independence, declared on May 14, 1948.

A tour of the spectacular Italian Air Force Museum after its renovation
A tour of the fabulous contents of the aeronautical museum at RAF Cosford

A few hours after that declaration of independence, backed by the UN, several Arab countries invaded the Jewish State in an attempt to erase it from the map. It was only the first of successive attempts by Israel's Arab neighbors to wipe it from the face of the Earth and repeat the horrors of the Holocaust.

An Avia S-199 fighter of the Israeli Air Force.

The Israeli Air Force was founded two weeks after independence, on May 28, 1948. Its first aircraft were fighters and bombers from World War II, mostly from surplus countries. allies. Israel's first air defense force was built with British Supermarine Spitfire fighters and Czechoslovak Avia S-199.

Supermarine Spitfire fighters of the Israeli Air Force.

As time went by, Israel acquired more modern fighters, such as the American F-4E Phantom II and the French Mirage III, and later the A-4 Skyhawk, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-15 Eagle and, already today, the F-35. In addition, Israel soon began manufacturing its own aircraft, such as the IAI Sa'ars (derived from the French Dassault Super Mystere), the IAI Nesher and the IAI Kfir (both derived from the Mirage 5).

The Israel Air Force Museum (Photo: Alexey Goral).

In 1977, the Israel Air Force Museum was inaugurated, located at Hatzerim Air Base, in the Negev Desert. This museum has been collecting aircraft and military vehicles used by the Israeli Air Force, until accumulating an exhibition of more than 150 aircraft. You can see some of its contents here.

An Avia S-199 fighter of the Israeli Air Force, known as "Mezek" (Mule) in Israel It was a Czechoslovakian variant of the German Messerschmitt Bf-109, built after World War II. Israel purchased a total of 25, of which 23 were delivered. The first of them arrived in Israel on May 20, 1948 (photo: 270862)

A North American P-51D Mustang fighter. The first Mustangs were a few units that arrived in Israel as smuggled, later acquiring some more units from the Swedish Air Force (photo: 270862)

A Douglas A-4F Skyhawk attack aircraft. The Skyhawk was one of the most numerous aircraft operated by the Israeli Air Force: 278 units in total, including 25 TA-4H two-seat trainers (photo:

An IAI Kfir fighter of the Israeli Air Force. It was an Israeli version of the Mirage 5, but equipped with the J-79 engine from the F-4 Phantom II. It made its first flight in 1973. More than 200 were built. Currently it is still active with the Colombian and Sri Lankan air forces (photo: Natan Flayer).

A US Navy IAI Kfir. Between 1985 and 1989, the US rented 25 of these fighters to Israel to be used as aggressor aircraft in the training of naval aviators. They were redesignated as F-21A. This one is preserved in the museum with the appearance of those US Navy aggressors (photo: 270862).

A McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II fighter. The Israeli Air Force operated a total of 286 Phantom IIs, in two versions: the F-4E fighter variant and the RF-4E reconnaissance variant. During the Yom Kippur War (1973), Israel suffered considerable losses of this model, with a total of 56 F-4Es lost against 116 enemy aircraft shot down (photo: 270862).

A Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23ML "Flogger A" fighter. This fighter of Soviet origin belonged to the Syrian Air Force. Its pilot defected to Israel on October 11, 1989 (photo: Oren Rozen).

A Sikorsky CH-53A Sea Stallion, serial number 471 and cn 153307. It was acquired by the Israeli Air Force in the late 1960s (photo: 270862).

One of five prototypes of the Israeli IAI Lavi fighter. Developed in the 1980s, it was to be the replacement for the IAI Kfir, until the program was canceled and Israel opted to purchase the F-16 (photo: Yacov Rosenblum).

A McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle fighter, 398, but painted like 695 Ha'Kokhav, a famous Israeli fighter that shot down 4 Syrian MiGs. The Eagle is known as "Baz" (Vulture) by the Israeli Air Force, which still operates 38 F-15A, 6 F-15B, 16 F-15C, 11 F-15D and 25 F-15I Ra'am, the version Israeli F-15E Strike Eagle (photo: Bukvoed).


Main photo: Yacov Rosenblum.

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