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Israel Defense Forces 

Last update - 07.06.2002
Author - Oleg Granovsky

All IAF aircraft

Fragment of an IAF recruitment poster dating from the 50-s.

Table 1. Complete make-up of the IAF according to different sources:




In service
In service
In service

Combat planes

F-15A "Eagle"


(62 F-15A/C and 20
(54 F-15A/C and 17
F-15B "Eagle"
F-15C "Eagle"
F-15D "Eagle"
"Strike Eagle"
F-16A "Fighting Falcon"
F-16B "Fighting Falcon"
F-16C "Fighting Falcon"
F-16D "Fighting Falcon"
F-16I "Fighting Falcon"
0 (102 on order, delivery 2003-2008)
"Phantom II"
"Phantom II"
"Kurnas Tzilum"
("Photo Kurnas")
10 (according to Jane's there are also 3 F-4E(S), 2 of them in service)
F-4E-2000 ("Phantom-2000")
A-4H/N "Skyhawk"
TA-4H "Skyhawk"
TA-4J "Skyhawk"
"Kfir" C-2/TC-2/C-7/TC-7/CR
("Lion cub")
in storage
(50 C7 and 60 others in storage)

Transport planes

"Re'em" ("Antelope")
10 (including special mod.)
C-130H "Hercules"
22 (E/H)
- (in earlier editions - 7 IAI-201)
4 (IAI-102)
3 (IAI-102)
Beechcraft "King Air" B200
( - )
0 (on roder, deliveries from 2000г)
10 ("King Air-2000") + 5 B200 (on order)
4 + 4 U-21
Tanker/air refuel planes
"Re'em" ("Antelope")
5 (4 KC-707, 1 KC-135)
KC-130H "Hercules"
Training planes
Aerospatiale Fouga CM-170 "Magister "
(some in storage)
Piper PA-18 "Super Cub"
Beechcraft B-80 "Queen Air"
(4 training, 10 liaison)
Grob G-120A
"Snunit" ("Swallow")
0 (about 20 of these will be rented by a civilian company that has been contracted to provide some of the traning services to the IAF, starting from 2003)
Socata TB-20 "Trinidad"
Grumman E-2C "Hawkeye"
(все на хранении)
"Boeing-707" ("Фалкон")
Beechcraft "King Air" RC-12D
6 ("King Air")
Beechcraft "King Air" RC-12K
2 (+ 2 RU-21A)
3 (IAI-200)
8 (IAI-202)
"Boeing-707" ELINT
"Re'em" ("Antelope")
2 (RC-707)
"Boeing-707" ECM
2 (EC-707)
EC-130 "Hercules"
0 (2 on order + option for one more, delivery from 2005)
Patrol planes
IAI-1124N "Sea scan"

Combat helicopters

AH-64A "Apache"
"Peten" ("Cobra")
AH-64D "Apache Longbow"
("Poison snake")
0 (8 on order (delivery from 2005) + option to upgrade 12 AH-64A)
AH-1G/E/F/S "Cobra" ("Bell-209")
"Tzefa" ("Viper")
(21 AH-1G,
36 AH-1F)
(39 AH-1F/S,
14 AH-1E)
500MD "Defender"
"Lahatut" ("Magic trick")
Sea helicopters
AS565SA "Panther"
"Atalef" ("Bat")
Heavy transport helicopters
CH-53D "Sea Stallion" (S-65)
"Yasur" ("Mallemuck")

Medium transport helicopters

UH-60A "Black Hawk"
"Yanshuf" ("Owl")
(UH-60L) "Black Hawk"
15 (+ 24 on order)
"Bell-212" (UH-1N "Iroquois")
"Anafa" ("Heron")
45 (10 more in storage for sale)




Light transport (liaison) helicopters
AB-206 "Jet Ranger"
( - )
36 (AB-206B)
"Bell-206L" "Long Ranger "
"Seifanit" (literally "small Seifan")




  • The practice of official Hebrew designations was started in the 60-s, and became obligatory for all aircraft only from the beginning of the 70-s.
    This is why some aircraft like Dakota, Cessna U-206, PA-18 don't have any Hebrew designation.
  • According to some sources, F-16D fighters are called Bareket in Hebrew. This designation has never appeared in either IAF's official website and in its magazine, moreover, it is mentioned several times that both F-16C and F-16D have the same designation Barak.
  • Different batches or models of same type planes/helicopters can have designations with a number. For instance, F-16A/B received in 1980-81 have the designation Hetz, and the ones received in 1994-95 - Hetz-2. Apaches received in 1990-91 are called Peten, the ones recived in 1993 - Peten-2. UH-60A has the designation Yanshuf, while UH-60L is Yanshuf-2.
  • Upgrades and modernization are also reflected in the designation, modernized Baz receive the designation Baz Meshupar (Improved Baz), Kurnas - Kurnas-2000, Yasur becomes Yasur-2000, and so forth.

Combat aircraft:

  • According to JCSS the IAF has a total of 800 combat aircraft, including 628 in service and 172 (57 Skyhawks and 115 Kfirs) in operative storage meaning they are kept in combat condition, they can be used in a case of an emergency or for sale.
  • According to ISS the IAF has a total of 696 combat aircraft, including 446 in service and some 250 (including most of the Kfir C7) in operative storage.
  • As can be seen from the above table, only the JCSS claims that Kfirs are still in service. According to both IISS and Jane's all planes of this type are in storage.
    In august 2001 Betaon Hel ha-Avir (page 9) writes that pilots and navigator who successfully complete their training serve on either of the four aircraft - Skyhawk, Phantom, F-15 and F-16.
    So, no new pilots and navigators are being prepared to fly the Kfirs.
  • Phantom-2000 is a deeply modernized F-4F Phantom fighter-bombers. Serial modernization was completed in 1989-94, with a goal to extend the service life of the aircraft at least 15 more years.
    Some 50-55 underwent the modernization.

Other aircraft:

  • In all of the sources in the table above in the section of transport aircraft mention the C-47 (DC-3) Dakota. According to JCSS there are 18 of the in the IAF (10 of them are in storage for sale), IISS claims 12 planes and Jane's - 10 (plus one RC-47).
    However, Dakota was officially retired in a ceremony January 30th, 2001. Only one aircraft is kept in working condition, in the museum of IAF in Hatzerim (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, February 2001, pages 10-11).
  • According to JCSS there are 21 Cessna U-206 (Stationar-6) in the IAF, all in storage for sale, IISS mentions 20 planes.
    However, according to Be-Yaaf magazine (#82, pages 26-28) with the arrival of Trinidads 21 Cessnas were sold aboard between august 1995 - march 1996, with only one plane remaining in the IAF museum.
  • IISS mentions 2 Islander planes in the liaison aircraft section.
    Apparently those are Briten-Norman BN.2A Islander, which entered service in February 1974. These aircraft were in flight school for navigator training for only a short period of time and are long decommissioned.
  • According to IISS and Jane's there are several Phalcon AWACS aircraft based on Boeing-707 in the IAF. At the same time, the IAF's official magazine states that IAF does not have any Phalcons, and only intends to buy them in the future (Betaon Hel ha-Avor, june 1999, page 7; may 2000, pages 9-10).
    Moreover, the losses of the Phalcon in Australian and Turkish tenders, and the cancellation of the deal to supply them to China, have likely hindered those plans.
  • In Jane's, Arava transport planes are listed as IAI-102.
    However, it's the civilian versions that carry the IAI-10X designation, all military versions are designated IAI-20X, such as IAI-201 and IAI-202.
  • In JCSS, the model of Trinidad planes is listed as TB-21, as opposed to TB-20 which the IAF uses. This model does exist, but it has a Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AB1AD turbofan engine, while the TB-20 has a 6-cylinder IO-540-C2D5D of the same company (both have 250 horse powers).
  • The Beechcraft King Air that IAF uses is the 200 model.
    In the period between 1970 and 1996 these aircraft were called Super King Air, to differentiate with the 90 model. Visually, are distinguished by the T-shaped tail. Today, the word "Super" isn't used anymore. According to IISS there are 10 King Air aircraft in the IAF, apparently meaning the King Air 200. In the USA, military versions of this plane were first designated U-21, but then changed to C-12 (ELINT versions - RU-21 and RC-12 accordingly).
    IAF's official website and magazine both state that the SIGINT version of this plane (Quqya) is in service since 1984, and the transport version (Tzofit) - since 1990.
    According to Jane's, Israel has received 4 RU-21 in 1975, in 1985 five (six according to the book "All IAF's Aircraft") RC-12D Improved Guardrail V were bought, and in may-june 1991 - 2 RC-12K Guardrail Common Sensor (System 4).
    Since October 2000 Israel has received 5 B200T (contract from 1997), and the first delivery from the next shipment is scheduled to arrive in November 2002, then in the next 8 month one more aircraft each month, meaning 8-9 machines total.
    However according to FAS, the contract from 22/09/2000 (worth 125 million dollars) is for 14 B200T/CT.
    In Israel, Tzofit are fitted with surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and are used for aerial patrolling of land and sea borders, visual reconnaissance above the "territories".


  • All three, IISS, JCSS and Jane's, list 25-30 Defender helicopters. However according to several Israeli sources (Yediot Ahronot 22/2/2000, Vesti 13/1/2000) 31 helicopters were put in storage and are offered for sale.
    Since 1997 the Cobra has replaced the Defender in IAF's flight school, the helicopter pilots course.
  • According to all sources, Israel has received a total of 42 Apache helicopters (see table #2 below). The figure of 41 helicopters mentioned in JCSS is apparently linked to the crash of one of the helicopters on 1/6/99 (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, june 1999, page 12).
    It is unknown is this helicopter was lost, or repaired.
  • The sources mentioned in the table above, say that IAF uses the G, E, F, S AH-1 Cobra modifications.
    In reality however, Israel has bought 6 AH-1G in 1974 (were delivered in 1975), and in 1977-78 they were upgraded to AH-1Q. After that only AH-1S were bought, which means AH-1G are disused for over 20 years now.
    As for AH-1E, this is a new built AH-1S - the so-called AH-1S Prod, as opposed to AH-1P (same as AH-1S Mod) that are modernized to the level of AH-1S, and AH-1S with the 20 mm gun, the so-called AH-1S (ECAS) (same as AH-1S Upgun).
    And finally, AH-1F is the modernized AH-1S.
    Most Israeli AH-1S are AH-1F, but there are several AH-1E - for example in june-october 1996 IAF received 14 of these helicopters from US Army stocks.
  • According to both Jane's and IISS, Israel has 2 SA-366G "Dophin-2" (HH-65A "Dolphin") sea helicopters. Originally the IAF indeed bought 2 of those helicopters in 1985, but one of them crashed on 16/9/96, and the other one was officially decommissioned on 12/3/97 (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, may 1997, page 12; Vesti, 13/3/97).
  • Again, both Jane's and IISS mention 4 Panthera sea helicopters.
    Apparently, originally the IAF ordered 4 such helicopters, but later the order was increased to 5 (Yediot Ahronot, 18/9/96 and 10/10/96; Vesti 7/11/96).

IAF's future

F-15I fighter-bombers

Combat aircraft

  • The basis of the future development of IAF until 2008 is the order for a total of 102 F-16I fighter-bombers, with deliveries beginning in 2003.
    With the arrival of the first 50 aircraft, which should be delivered between 2003-2006 (the contract was signed on 14/01/2000 and is worth 2.5 billion dollars) the aging Skyhawks fleet will be retired from service, except for double-seat TA-4 version which is used in training.
    The second batch, 52 planes, should be delivered between 2006 and 2008, and will replace the Phantom-2000 aircraft.
    Meaning, that after 2008, the IAF's entire fleet of combat aircraft will be composed of F-15 and F-16 versions. (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, august 1999, pages 6-9; october 1999, page 9; february 2000, page 8; may 2000 page 18; october 2000, page 16; april 2001 page 7; june 2001, page 14; august 2001, page 9; april 2002, page 14)
  • The next large contract after 2008 will probably be an order of a small number (about 25-40) F-22 fighters, and only after 2012 - F-35 (JSF) fighters.
    Since 1999 Israel has an official observer status in the JSF program. (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, october 1999, page 8; august 2000, page 86; december 2001, page 46; april 2002, page 15)
  • Currently, F-15 aircraft are being upgraded to the "Baz Meshupar" standard. The work on the first prototype was completed in November 1999, and in 2000 a serial modernization begun.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, december 1998, page 18; december 2001, pages 18, 50)
  • In june 2000 the modernization of F-16A/B received from the US in 1994-95 up to the level of the rest of IAF's F-16A/B was completed.
    (Beaton Hel ha-Avir, june 2000, page 18)
  • With the arrival of F-16I, the older F-16C/D avionics will be upgraded to the same standard. The project is planned to last 5 years, with the cost of 1 million dollars per plane.
    In case it will be decided to install the F-16I AN/APG-68(V)9 radar on F-16C/D as well, the cost of modernization will rise up to 4 million dollars per plane.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, may 2001, page 19; june 2001, page 14; December 2001, page 13)


Heavy and medium transport aircraft

  • In late 2001 it was announced that the Gulfsteam-5 (made by Gulfstream/General Dynamics) won against the Boeing-737 in a tender for a new ELINT aircraft. The contract is worth over 100 million dollars.
    After their arrival to Israel, the planes will be equipped with Elta electronic equipment worth 200-250 million shekels.
    (Beaton Hel ha-Avir, february 2001, page 6; december 2001, page 13)
  • Two more Boeing-707 will be modified into tankers in IAI facilities, and their avionics will be upgraded as well.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avor, january 2002, page 10)
  • C-130 Hercules planes will remain the backbone of IAF's transport aviation for many years to come. After 2005 the IAF is expected to either buy the newer C-130J aircraft, or modernize the existing ones to that standard.
    In the meanwhile, the IAF has put 4 of its oldest model of Hercules - the C-130E - up for sale.
    (Beaton Hel ha-Avir, may 2000, pages 10, 25)


Light transport aircraft

  • Before the end of 2003, Beechcraft Super King Air B200 will become the main light transport plane.
    Since the beginning of 2001 B200 have replaced the Dakota, and with the arrival of a new batch they will replace Do-28 and Queen Air B80 as well.
    Already from the end of 2002 the Queen Air will be used only as training aircraft on the navigator's courses, and the rest of its functions such as patrolling and liaison will be given to the B200.
    (Beaton Hel ha-Avir, february 1999, page 10; december 1999, page 11; june 2000, page 14; october 2000, page 13; december 2001г, page 16; april 2002, page 12)
  • Arava planes will apparently remain in service in the foreseeable future, at least no announcements regarding their possible replacement were made.


Training aircraft

  • In the beginning of 2002 the German-made Grob G-120A plane was selected by the IAF to replace the older PA-18 and CM-170 training aircraft.
    The IAF will not buy it, but rather rent about 20 planes through a civilian company.
    During 2002 the flight instructors will undergo re-training for the G-120A, and in the beginning of 2003 a small group of flight cadets will be trained on the new planes, as an experiment. If all goes well, the G-120A will go into full service only from mid-2003.
    It will replace all the PA-18, but the CM-170 only in selection exercises (meaning exercises to determine where the cadets go next - fight pilots, navigators, transport pilots, helicopter, etc.,).
    The complete replacement of the CM-170 will probably require more G-120A to be rented.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, june 1999, page 14; october 2000, page 11; december 2001, page 12; february 2002, page 13)
  • Skyhawks (mainly the double-seat TA-4H and TA-4J versions) will remain to be used in training squadrons of combat pilots ("megamot krav") for a long time to come. These squadrons are formed for the last 6 months of pilot's training courses.
    To decrease the difference between Skyhawks and F-15/F-16, in 2004 A-4 and TA-4 will be upgraded with new electronic systems and other equipment.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, april 2002, page 14)
  • The courseы of operative training of pilots of combat planes ("KAAM - Kurs ha-Imun ha-Mivtzai") - the half-year training period that pilots undergo immediately after finishing their flight training - will be gradually transferred from Skyhawks to F-16A/B.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, february 1999, page 14; june 2000, page 18)

Attack helicopters

  • In august 2000 Israel has decided to buy 8 new AH-64D Apache Longbow, with an option for a modernization of 12 more AH-64A to the AH-64D standard. The cost of this contract is 400 million dollars. This decision nullifies the previous agreement to upgrade 12 AH-62A with an option of modernization for 12 more.
    In october 2000 one of IAF's AH-64A was sent to USA to become the prototype of integration of Israeli-made systems installed on the Apache during the modernizations in Israel, with new AH-64D systems.
    Some sources say that in fact 9 AH-64D will be bought (for example, FAS - contract from 19/92/2001 for 500 million dollars) - it's possible that in fact those are 8 new helicopters and the prototype mentioned above. The new helicopters will be delivered to Israel in 2005.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, february 2000г, page 9; august 2000г, page 7; december 2000г, page 11; december 2001г, page 12; april 2002г, page 16).
  • The Cobra attack helicopters are constantly being upgraded, which will allow for it to remain in service at least until 2010 (Beaton Hel ha-Avir, april 2002, page 13). We can assume that in the future they will be replaced by Comanche and/or Apache helicopters that will be retired from US Army service as they'll be replaced by Comanches.
    In the past Israel considered buying AH-1Z Super Cobra helicopters, but it was decided to purchase Apache Longbow instead.
    (Beaton Hel ha-Avir, april 1999, pages 8-9; june 1999, page 7)


Sea and transport helicopters

  • Currently, the Panther sea helicopters are being upgraded.
    The modernization will be complete before the end of 2003
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, june 2000, page 17; august 2000, page 13; december 2001, page 13; april 2002, page 13)
    With the purchase of new Sa'ar-5 class corvettes (5 new corvettes are to be build in the next decade) it is probable that new helicopters will also be bought.
  • All CH-53 are currently being upgraded to the CH-53-2000 standard. The fist modernized helicopters have entered serive in the middle of 1994 - it's probably that the work has been completed by now.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, february 1998, page 7; december 1998, page 10; may 2000, page 10; december 2000, page 10)
  • After the arrival of new UH-60L (24 in all, according to FAS the contract from 24/01/2001 is worth 212 million dollars) some of the older Black Hawks (UH-60A) will be transferred to IAF's flight school to be used in transport helicopter pilots' training, they will replace the Bell-212 helicopters that are used today.
    This probably means that Bell-212 will be retired from service entirely.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, decemeber 2001, page 16)
  • All UH-60L will be equipped with external fuel tanks and an air refueling system. The 15 UH-60L already in Israel are being modernized today - the works began in 1999 with the first upgraded helicopter delivered to the IAF in 2000. The recently ordered 24 UH-60L will be equipped with these system already in the production stage.
    Meanwhile UH-60A are also being upgraded in order to bring their systems as close as possible to the UH-60L. The IAF decided against purchasing a special medivac Black Hawk version (UH-60Q), instead the helicopters already in service will be equipped with medical equipment as needed.
    (Betaon Hel ha-Avir, february 1999г, page 6; october 1999г, page 13; may 2000г, page 18; august 2000г, page 11; february 2001г, page 9; october 2000г, page 13; august 2001г, page 10; december 2001г, page 16; april 2002г, page 18).

Table 2. Purchases of combat aircraft and some helicopters:

Type and quantity
Beginning of delivery
End of delivery
F-15 fighters:
25 F-15A/B
23 F-15A
2 F-15B
1978 (?)
21 new and 4 F-15A from USAF
15 F-15C/D
24 F-15C
2 F-15D
(another source: 18 F-15C and 8 F-15D)
1982 (?)
11 F-15C/D
1984 (?)
1985 (?)
25 F-15A/B
1992 (?)
used from USAF
5 F-15D
25 F-15I
Total of 106 F-15 of them 29 used
F-16 fighters:
75 F-16A/B, block 10/15
8 F-16B
67 F-16A
november 1981
new; "Peace Marble 1" deal
75 F-16C/D, block 30
51 F-16C 24 F-16D
new; "Peace Marble 2" deal
60 F-16C/D, block 40
30 F-16C 30 F-16D
new; "Peace Marble 3" deal
50 F-16A/B, block 10/15
36 F-16A 14 F-16B
march 1995
from USAF; "Peace Marble 4" deal
50 F-16I
(F-16D block 52+)
july 2003
new; "Peace Marble 5" deal
52 F-16I
(F-16D block 52+)
Total of 260 F-16, of them 50 used plus 102 on order
Skyhawks, Phantoms, Kfirs - totals
Since the end of 1967 to the beginning of the 80s Israel has received 90 A-4H, 10 TA-4H, and 129 A-4N (according to another source, 117 A-4N and 13 A-4M), 57 A-4E (60 including A-4F according to another source), 17 TA-4J (according to another source 14, including TA-4F) and some A-4B in non-working condition for ground mechanics training. According to SIPRI (1996, page 503), in 1994-95 Israel has received 10 more used TA-4J from the US Navy.
Between 1969 and 1977 Israel has received 204 F-4E and 12 RF-4E. Also between 1969 and 1970 2 RF-4C were rented from the US.
Since 1975 3 Israeli F-4E were modified to reconnaissance F-4E(S).
According to Jane's, 212 aircraft were built since 1975 - 27 C-1, and 185 C-2/TC-2. Since 1983 some C-2/TC-2 were upgraded to C-7/TC-7 standard. 13 Kfirs were sold to Columbia, 16 to Ecuador, and 16 to Sri-Lanka. 25 were rented to the US between 1984-1989 (F-21A) and later returned to Israel. There's also a reconnaissance version called Kfir CR.
AH-64 Apache
18 AH-64A
24 AH-64A
from US Army
8 AH-64D
(plus option for modernization of 12 more AH-64A
to AH-64D)
Total 42 AH-64, of them 24 used, plus 9 on order
UH-60 Black Hawk
10 UH-60A
august 1994
from US Army
15 UH-60L
beginning of june 1998
24 UH-60L
july 2002
january 2003
Total 25 UH-60 of them 10 used, plus 24 on order



1. "The Middle East Military Balance" for 2000/2001 published by JCSS - Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at the Tel Aviv university.
2. "The Military Balance" for 2001/2002 published by IISS - The International Institute for Strategic Studies.
3. "Armaments, Disarmaments and International Security" report for 2001 published by SIPRI - Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
4. Newspapers "Bamahane ha-Shavua", "Yediot Ahronot ", "Vesti", magazines"Maarahot", "Bamahane", "Be-Yaaf", "Be-Avir".
5.Jane's World Aircraft and JIDR magazines - "Jane's International Defense Review", JDW - "Jane's Defense Weekly", JIR - "Jane's Intelligence Review".
6. IAF magazine ("Betaon Hel ha-Avir").
7. Inernet sites
8. Dani Shalom, "Wings of war, wings of peace" ("Knafei milhama, knafei shalom", hebrew, hed Artzi, 1999).
9. Dani Shalom, "World aircraft and missiles" ("Metosim ve tilim be olam", hebrew, Kinneret, 1993г).
10. Dani Shalom, "All IAF aircraft" ("Kol metosei Hel ha-Avir", hebrew, Ba-Avir pirsumei teufa, 1990).

All photos are property of the official IAF website.

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