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IAF's Enemy Planes Release date 23.02.2015
The aircraft that fell in the hands of the IAF throughout the years have answered some questions regarding the enemies' capabilities
Shani Poms | Translation: Eden Sharon

In order to fully understand the enemy, the IAF has to be familiar with its aircraft and capabilities. It is not a secret that the IAF conducts intelligence researches in order to get this important information. But in rare occasions in history, the information came directly from the enemy's planes after falling into the hands of the IAF.

Throughout its history, the IAF used to operate Western-made planes, while its enemies often used Soviet-made aviation and the story of each enemy plane is different - a pilot who defected with his MiG-21 or a jet fighter found in the battlefield. The close encounters with the enemy planes have answered quite a few questions for the IAF.
"An enemy plane that reaches our hands is valuable due to the data we can draw from it so we could understand how to deal with it", explains Colonel (Res.) Ofer Safra, who flew the MiG-23 fighter that defected to Israel from Syria in 1989.

How to Dodge a MiG-23
"We had prior knowledge regarding this jet", he recalls. "We wanted to verify our presumptions and the flight tests we conducted did help us confirm them. The most interesting for us were the radar systems. The MiG-23 has an Infrared system used to detect planes and acts as a complementary system to the radar".

"The pilots were no longer afraid of MiGs"
In the 60s, the MiG-21 jet fighter was considered number one enemy of the Israeli pilot.
"We thought that this fighter is very advanced and that we must watch out from it", recalls Colonel (Res.) Dani Shapira when unfolding the story of the MiG-21 that landed in Israel after an unprecedented "Mosad" operation, which concluded in the defection of Munir Radfa, the Iraqi pilot.

When the MiG-21 was examined by Colonel (Res.) Shapira, he discovered significant vulnerabilities like low maneuvering capabilities when flying fast in low altitudes, or poor visibility from the cockpit. It resulted in important operational conclusions for the next "dogfights" against the MiG-21.
"I advised the pilots to try to approach the MiG and a bit lower, say at an angle of 30 degrees on each side", says Colonel (Res.) Shapira. "That way, the MiG pilot could not notice the approaching fighter".

In addition to operational advantages, analyzing an enemy plane also has a considerable mental value. "It was a great relief for our pilots to discover the shortcomings of the enemy planes", summarizes Colonel (Res.) Shapira. "They were no longer afraid of MiGs".

 
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The MiG-23 fighter that defected to Israel from Syria in 1989
The MiG-23 fighter that defected to Israel from Syria in 1989

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