Special Report

Fighter Jets and Attack Helicopters of The Israeli Air Force

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The Israeli Defense Force began in May 1948 when then-Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion issued an order for the formation of the Defense Force following Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Since its declaration, Israel has been fighting numerous wars with Palestine, which is one of the world’s longest-continuous conflicts. The latest conflict began in the wake of Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel when assailants killed over 1,000 civilian Israelis — young and old alike — and non-civilians, which resulted in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring Israel to be in a state of war.

The attack by Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and other countries, has prompted responses by countries worldwide that will undoubtedly add to already heated geopolitical tensions. Israeli forces are now mobilizing in the form of infantry and tanks, but perhaps the biggest advantage Israel has is air superiority.

According to U.S. Air Force magazine, one of the most important factors in modern warfare is air superiority, which is considered as one force “capable of conducting air operations without prohibitive interference.” This allows support to ground troops or to ships at sea from the air. In this current ongoing war, the Israeli Defense Force has air supremacy, meaning, “the opposing air force is incapable of effective interference.” Hamas’s anti-air countermeasures include rockets, missiles, and other man-portable shoulder-mounted launchers.

Israel’s fleet of fighter jets, attack helicopters, and more come from a handful of nations, namely the United States, and a few are produced in-house. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed active military aircraft data from FlightGlobal, an annual military aviation publication to identify the fighter jets and attack helicopters of the Israeli Air Force. We ordered the aircraft alphabetically and included supplemental data from the Military Factory regarding the type of aircraft, year introduced, classification, active number of aircraft, country of origin, manufacturer, top speed, and armament. (These are the largest air forces on Earth.)

The most widely used combat aircraft in the Israeli Air Force is the F-16I Sufa (Storm), with roughly 175 active aircraft in service. Introduced in 2004 as a lightweight multirole fighter jet manufactured by Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems, and Israel Aerospace Industries, the Storm is capable of hitting speeds near Mach 2 and has a wide array of armaments, namely short-range air-to-air missiles. (These are The World’s 13 Fastest Fighter Jets.)

The IDF employs a range of combat helicopters as well, including the AH-64 Apache, AS565 Panther, and UH-60 Black Hawk. Most of these helicopters are manufactured by the United States except for the AS565 Panther, which is manufactured by Eurocopter in France. Each of these helicopters is outfitted with machine guns of varying calibers, and some are capable of holstering Hellfire missiles or Hydra rocket pods. (This is the most widely used combat helicopter in the world.)

Combat aircraft aside, much of the fleet consists of training aircraft that do not bear any armament. The T-6 Texan II and Leonardo M-346 Master are the most widely used. The T-6 Texan II traces its roots to the original T-6 Texan from World War II and was one of the most widely produced aircraft of that era.

Here are the fighter jets and attack helicopters of the Israeli Air Force.

AH-64 Apache

  • Year introduced: 1986
  • Type: Dedicated two-seat attack helicopter
  • Classification: Combat Helicopter
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 48
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Hughes / Boeing / McDonnell Douglas
  • Top speed: 183
  • Armament: 30mm Hughes chain gun, Hellfire missiles, Hydra rockets, Stinger air-to-air missiles, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles

AS565 Panther

  • Year introduced: 1985
  • Type: Multirole helicopter
  • Classification: Combat Helicopter
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 4
  • Country of Origin: France
  • Manufacturer(s): Eurocopter
  • Top speed: 190
  • Armament: Giat M621 20mm gun pods, 2.75″ rocket pods, AS-15 TT anti-ship missiles, HOT anti-tank missiles, Mark 46 torpedoes

Bell Model 206 (JetRanger / LongRanger)

  • Year introduced: 1967
  • Type: Light utility helicopter
  • Classification: Combat Helicopter
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 4
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Bell Helicopter Textron
  • Top speed: 122
  • Armament: 7.62mm machine guns

Bell OH-58 Kiowa

  • Year introduced: 1969
  • Type: Light scout and reconnaissance helicopter
  • Classification: Training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 18
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Bell Helicopter Textron
  • Top speed: 131
  • Armament: 7.62mm machine gun/minigun pods, Hydra rocket pods, Hellfire anti-tank missiles, Stinger air-to-air missiles

Boeing 707

  • Year introduced: 1958
  • Type: In-flight refueler / aerial tanker aircraft
  • Classification: Tanker
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 7
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Boeing
  • Top speed: 551
  • Armament: None

C-130 Hercules

  • Year introduced: 1956
  • Type: Tactical Transport
  • Classification: Transport
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 13
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Martin
  • Top speed: 373
  • Armament: None

CH-53 Sea Stallion

  • Year introduced: 1966
  • Type: Heavy-lift transport helicopter
  • Classification: Combat Helicopter
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 22
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Sikorsky Aircraft / VFW-Fokker; Spey
  • Top speed: 196
  • Armament: 12.7mm XM218, 12.7mm GAU-21, 7.62mm MG3 machine gun

F-15 Eagle

  • Year introduced: 1976
  • Type: Air superiority fighter aircraft
  • Classification: Combat Aircraft, training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 66
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): McDonnell Douglas / Boeing / Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
  • Top speed: 1875
  • Armament: 20mm M61A1, air-to-air missiles (Sidewinder, Sparrow), air-to-ground missiles (Maverick, HARM), Laser-guided bombs, cluster bombs

F-16I Sufa (Storm)

  • Year introduced: 2004
  • Type: Lightweight multirole fighter
  • Classification: Combat Aircraft, training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 175
  • Country of Origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Martin / Elbit Systems; Israel Aerospace Industries
  • Top speed: 1501
  • Armament: 20mm M61A1, short-range air-to-air missiles on wingtip launchers

F-35 Lightning II

  • Year introduced: 2016
  • Type: Advanced multirole strike fighter
  • Classification: Combat Aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 32
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Martin / Northrop Grumman / BAE Systems
  • Top speed: 1199
  • Armament: 25mm GAU-12/U, air-to-air missiles (Sidewinder, AMRAAM), guided bombs (Paveway II), general purpose bombs, JDAM bombs, cruise missiles (Stormshadow)

Grob G120A

  • Year introduced: 1999
  • Type: Lightweight basic trainer aircraft
  • Classification: Training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 16
  • Country of Origin: Germany
  • Manufacturer(s): Grob Aircraft
  • Top speed: 199
  • Armament: None

Gulfstream V

  • Year introduced: 1997
  • Type: Special electronic mission aircraft
  • Classification: Special Mission
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 3
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Gulfstream
  • Top speed: 675
  • Armament: None

IAI EL/W-2085 (G550)

  • Year introduced: 2012
  • Type: Airborne early warning and control aircraft
  • Classification: Special Mission
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 2
  • Country of Origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer(s): Israel Aircraft Industries / Gulfstream Aircraft
  • Top speed: 587
  • Armament: None

KC-130 Super Hercules

  • Year introduced: 1962
  • Type: Aerial tanker
  • Classification: Tanker
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 4
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Martin
  • Top speed: 416
  • Armament: None

KC-46 Pegasus

  • Year introduced: 2019
  • Type: In-flight refueler / aerial tanker aircraft
  • Classification: Tanker
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 1
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Boeing
  • Top speed: 569
  • Armament: None

King Air 200

  • Year introduced: 1964
  • Type: Multirole transport aircraft
  • Classification: Special Mission, transport, training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 22
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Beechcraft
  • Top speed: 311
  • Armament: None

Leonardo AW119 (Koala)

  • Year introduced: 2000
  • Type: Lightweight utility helicopter
  • Classification: Training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 1
  • Country of Origin: Italy
  • Manufacturer(s): Leonardo-Finmeccanica
  • Top speed: 177
  • Armament: None

Leonardo M-346 Master

  • Year introduced: 2016
  • Type: Advanced jet trainer
  • Classification: Training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 30
  • Country of Origin: Italy
  • Manufacturer(s): Leonardo-Finmeccanica
  • Top speed: 659
  • Armament: None

T-6 Texan II

  • Year introduced: 2001
  • Type: Tandem-seat basic trainer aircraft
  • Classification: Training aircraft
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 20
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Raytheon Aircraft / Hawker Beechcraft (Textron Aviation)
  • Top speed: 320
  • Armament: None

UH-60 Black Hawk

  • Year introduced: 1979
  • Type: Medium-lift multi-mission helicopter
  • Classification: Combat Helicopter
  • Active aircraft in Israeli Air Force: 48
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Manufacturer(s): Sikorsky Aircraft / PZL / Turkish Aerospace Industries
  • Top speed: 183
  • Armament: 7.62mm general purpose machine gun, Hellfire missiles, GAU-19 12.7mm gatling gun, mine dispersal systems, 2.75″ FFAR rocket pods

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