IAF Commanders

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Binyamin (Benny) Peled

May 1973 - October 1977

Lieutenant General Binyamin "Benny" Peled (retired), the Israel Air Force's eight Commander in Chief, was born Binyamin Weidenfeld in Tel Aviv, 1928. In 1946 he completed his studies at the Herzliya Hebrew High School, and began his service in the Upper Galilee, as member of the Jewish Settlement Police.

In 1947, Peled began his studies in mechanical engineering, but was forced to end them prematurely due to the outbreak of the Independence War. In December he volunteered for the Air Service. A shortage of spaces in the Pilots Course meant that he was sent to the first Aircraft Mechanics Course and in 1948 began his services at Sde Dov as an Auster mechanic. Later, he was transferred to Ekron Airbase (today known as Tel Nof Airbase) to serve as a ground forces mechanic for transport aircraft.

In 1949, at the recommendation of Mody Alon, then commander of the "1st Combat" Squadron in which Peled served as a mechanic, he was finally sent to flight training. However, the course was dissolved due to a shortage of aircraft and instructors. In December 1949 Peled was sent to Sirkin Airbase to continue in Pilots' School, finally graduating with honors. He was placed back in the "1st Combat" Squadron, and underwent operational training on the Messerschmitt. After some time he became a Spitfire instructor, before being appointed Commander of the operational training course.

In April 1952 Peled was send to Britain to participate in a number of courses, including a jet conversion course (for flying the Vampire and Meteor jets), a jet instructor course and a gunner and armament instructor course. After his return to Israel in July 1953, he was appointed second-in-command of the IAF's first Meteor squadron.

At the start of 1954 Peled was sent to France to test combat aircraft for use in the IAF. The decision was taken to acquire the Mystère-4, which was received by the "1st Combat" Squadron at the end of 1955. During the Sinai Campaign Peled's Mystère was struck by Egyptian anti-aircraft fire above Ras Nasrani, and he was forced to abandon it, thus becoming the first IAF pilot to use an ejection seat. He hid, injured, for some hours, before being rescued by an IAF Piper 240 kilometres into enemy territory. At the start of 1958 Peled was placed in Air Force Headquarters, as head of the Air Training Department. During the same year he left to study aeronautics at the Technion, until 1962.

In May 1964, after a short period in IAF Headquarters, Peled was appointed Commander of the Hatzor Airbase, a role in which he served during the Six Day War. In August 1967 he returned to headquarters, serving as head of the Air Department. In this capacity, at the start of 1969, he oversaw the Mirage-5 acquisition program, which was halted by the French embargo of Israel in December 1969. In March 1969 Peled was "borrowed" by Israel Aerospace Industries, where he served as deputy CEO. He returned to the IAF in June of the same year.

In August 1971 Peled returned to his role as head of the Air Department, until he was appointed as Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force in May 1973. Benny Peled commanded the IAF throughout the Yom Kippur War, one of the most challenging wars in which the IAF has participated. In August 1977, he completed his tenure, passing Command of the Air Force to David Ivry. Between 1978 and 1985 Peled served as president of Elbit. In 1989 he resigned, to pursue business in the private sector.

Benny Peled passed away on 13th July 2002, at the age of 74.

Binyamin (Benny) Peled
Binyamin (Benny) Peled