The Yom Kippur War broke out on October 6th 1973, in a surprise, unprovoked attack launched by Egypt and Syria.
It was to be the IAF's most difficult war. Egyptian ground forces crossed the Canal, and Egypt's planes swooped down on Israel's soldiers along the front line. Syrian planes also punished IDF positions, as Syria's artillery shelled Israeli settlements, and hundreds of its tanks swarmed westwards, wresting control of a large part of the Golan Heights.
The IAF's ability to execute a preemptive strike was not realized. Its initial mission, in the first two days of the war, was to block the enemy's advance. IAF jets bombed and strafed Syrian forces under heavy threat from state-of-the-art Syrian SAMs. On October 7th six IAF planes were shot out of the sky by Syrian AA fire. Along the Suez, the heroic effort by Israel's pilots succeeded in seriously damaging Egypts SAM capability: 32 SAMs were knocked out and 11 others damaged.
Once the IDF had regrouped and began pushing the enemy back to its own territory, IAF planes on both fronts began attacking convoys, armor and airfields in Egypt and Syria, and picking away at the two enemies' air forces.
In response to surface-to-surface missile attacks on Israeli civilian targets, the IAF carried out attacks deep inside enemy territory, destroying important strategic targets that included oil installations, government offices, refineries and radio relay stations.
The helicopter and transport squadrons participated in rescue and evacuation operations, and transported special forces. The AA array shot down about 60 enemy planes during the war.
53 Israeli airmen were killed in the fighting.