Base Map

Tel Nof

RAF Aqir, today Tel Nof Airbase, was established by the British in spring 1941 as part of their efforts to prevent the German army from conquering mandatory Palestine. The base, which received its name from the neighboring Arab village Aqir, was the largest airbase built by the British in Palestine. 

On 26th September 1947 the British government announced that it would withdraw from mandatory Palestine. The yishuv's institutions began to discuss the possibility of taking control over parts of Britain's aviation infrastructure and in March 1948, "Haganah" representative acquired RAF Aqir. 

During the War of Independence, IAF Headquarters decided to rename the base Ekron. Towards the end of the war it was decided to change the name again, to a Hebrew name. The name chosen was Tel Nof, in memory of group of Polish Jews who planned for the construction of a town called Tel Nof, on the site of today's IAF base.  

F-15 Squadrons 

Israel's first three F-15s arrived on Tel Nof in December 1976. Their first downing of enemy aircraft, took place on 27th June 1979, when four F-15s from the "Knights of the Twin Tail" squadron were carrying out an interception patrol and encountered three quarters of Syrian MiGs. During the ensuing aerial battle, the F-15s brought down four of the enemy aircraft. At the end of 1981 and the start of 1982 "Knights of the Twin Tail" gained a new intelligence gathering capability, joining the other squadrons carrying out intelligence gathering operations, including sorties deep into enemy territory. 

In October 1985 eight F-15s, 6 from the "Edge of the Spear" squadron and a pair from the "Knights of the Twin Tail" Squadron, attacked the PLO headquarters in Tunisia in operation "wooden leg". This is the longest range sortie that the IAF's combat aircraft have carried out to this day, the target being around 1,285 miles away. 

In the early nineties the IAF developed the ability to respond to long-range threats. The F-15s and CH-53 helicopters took a permanent role in this activity. At this time Israel F-15's were upgraded in order to improve their operational capabilities. The second improvement to this aircraft extended its service through to 2025. 

CH-53 Helicopter Squadrons 

In January 1966 the "Knight Raptors" squadron opened on the base, the force's first heavy helicopter squadron. Today the CH-53 remains the IAF's largest helicopter and thus has taken an important part in airlift operations, even behind enemy lines. A pair of CH-53s belongs to the squadron were the first Israeli aircraft to publicly land in Jordan on 20th July 1994. 

On 4th February 1994, a pair of CH-53s from the "Night Transports" squadron took part in the transport of troops to positions along the red line in Lebanon's security zone. After receiving permission to cross the border, the two helicopters collided. In the collision the 73 passengers and crew were killed. 

The "Flight Test Center" Squadron  

During 1973 the then commander in Chief of the IAF, Major General Benny Peled decided to establish an independent "Flight Test Center" that would specialize in trial flight and weapons testing and that would find answers to operational problems. On 1st April the "Flight Test Center" was established on the base.  

The Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit (669) 

In April 1974 the Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit was established. The unit was established following lessons learnt during the Yom Kippur War, when the necessity of a rescue unit intended to retrieve air crew and evacuate the wounded from any place at any time became apparent. 

The Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit is an elite unit. The unit's fighters undergo a long training process and are obliged to sign on to serve for additional years. They use specialized and unique equipment for their operations. 669 is one of only two units in the IAF in which women may not serve. The other is Shaldag, an elite commando unit. 

The Air Maintenance Unit 

In November 1948 the Air Maintenance Base was established. This unit is the only one in the IAF qualified to carry out level 4 maintenance on aircraft, the most complex work required to keep the force's aircraft operating. 

"Eitan" Squadron 

In February 2004 it was decided that an engineering development center would be established on Tel Nof for the Eitan UAV, the largest, longest range, highest-flying UAV operated by the IAF, capable of carrying the heaviest loads. 

The first of the IAF's Eitan squadrons is scheduled to open on Tel Nof in 2014, and will make Tel Nof the only base to operate fighter planes, troop transport helicopters and UAVs.