IAF Commanders

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Mordechai Hod

April 1966 - May 1973

Major General (retired) Mordechai Hod (born Mordechai Fein), the seventh Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force, was born on Kibbutz Degania. He joined the British Army at the age of eighteen, serving in the 178th Transport Company, which operated alongside the Jewish Brigade on the Italian front.

In 1946 he enlisted in the Palmach, and worked in Europe assisting Aliyah Bet, the illegal immigration of Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees into Mandatory Palestine. The Aliyah Bet leadership arranged for Hod to take private pilot lessons in Rome. In May 1948, with 60 hours of flight time in light aircraft, he joined the first group which left Israel to learn to fly in the Czech Republic. In this context he learnt to fly Messerschmitt, Arado and Spitfire aircraft, until the course was halted for political reasons.  Hod took part in Operation "Velvetta", in which Spitfires were flown to Israel, despite having less than five hours experience flying the Spitfire at the start of the operation.

Hod completed flight school in Israel in 1949, making him the first Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force to have earned his wings in an IAF course. He was placed in the "1st Combat" Squadron, which at that time consisted of Messerschmitt 109s and Spitfires.

In 1950 he was sent to England for a retraining course on the Meteor and Vampire, and was the first IAF pilot to undergo retraining on a jet aircraft.

In 1951 he was appointed commander of the "1st Combat" Squadron, which was operating Mustang aircraft. He served there until 1953. At the end of the year, on completing Command and Staff Course, he was placed on Ramat David Airbase, serving as the commander of the Flight-Services Squadron.

In February 1956, he was chosen to assemble the first Ouragan squadron, which he commanded during the Sinai Campaign. During the operation he flew as the leading escort for Dakotas, which dropped paratroopers over Mitla, and took part in attacks on Egyptian armour.

In 1957 Hod was appointed head of the Hatzor Airbase, and after two years was transferred to IAF headquarters, where he served as head of the Air Branch. During the years 1962-1966, he was head of the Air Department and deputy to Ezer Weizman, the then Commander in Chief of the IAF.

In April 1966 he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force.  In this role he worked to replace the IAF's French aircraft with American craft, such as the Skyhawk and the Phantom.

Hod also pushed forward the idea of developing Israeli fighter planes, an idea which led to the production of the Kfir. He commanded over the IAF during the Six Day War and the War of Attrition, and in May 1973 handed the force over to Benny Peled.

With the end of his tenure, he left to the USA to study business management. The Yom Kippur War broke out soon after he returned to Israel, and Hod was appointed aviation advisor to the head of Southern Command. After this, he was appointed assistant to the Minister of Security for the development of military projects, amongst them the Kfir project.

In 1975, after completing his time with the Defence Ministry, he founded a company to transport agricultural products. During 1977-1979 he served as CEO to El Al. In 1985 he founded a consulting firm, whose primary business was with the security industry. In 1987 he was appointed chairman of the board of Israel Aerospace Industries, a position from which he resigned in 1993. In 1995 Hod completed his formal education, earning a PhD in business management from Pacific Western University, in Los Angeles, USA.

On 29th June 2003, after a long struggle with severe illness, Major General (retired) Hod passed away.

Mordechai Hod
Mordechai Hod