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This Month in History: September Release date 05.09.2017
The English "Meteor" aircraft first landed in Israel in 1953. In 1955, they performed the first takedown performed by a jet in the Middle East
Carmel Lahad & Eynat Ravid

The IAF's "Jet Era" began on June 17th, 1953, when two English "Meteor 7" aircraft landed in Ramat-David AFB. David Ben-Gurion – then Prime Minister and Minister of Defense – welcomed the aircraft and named them: "Sufa" (Tempest) and "Sa'ar" (Storm). The "First Jet" Squadron integrated the new aircraft.


Photo Courtesy of the IAF History Department

The squadron performed its first aerial firefight at the end of August, 1955, after a period of tension at the Israel-Egypt border. During a routine aerial patrol in the "Negev" area, the "Meteor" aircraft noticed four Egyptian "Vampire" aircraft which had infiltrated Israeli territory. An aerial firefight ensued, with one of the aircraft firing a burst at one of the "Vampire" aircraft, while the other chased the rest of the Egyptian aircraft. The Egyptians flew into the clouds and disappeared, with a high chance existing that one of them was downed before its landing.


Photo Courtesy of the IAF History Department

On September 1st, 1955, the squadron was responsible for the first takedown performed by a jet in the Middle East. This occurred when four Egyptian "Vampire" aircraft entered Israeli territory and began firing at the Karmia kibbutz. On 6:52 AM, the two "Meteor" aircraft were scrambled, headed by the late Col. (Res') Aharon Yoeli and the late Col. (Res') Yoash Tzidon.


Photo Courtesy of the IAF History Department

The aircraft turned south, and while flying 5,000 feet over Ashkelon, Col. Tzidon noticed the enemy aircraft flying east and brought them to Col. Yoeli's attention. The enemy aircraft were 1,200 meters away from them. Col. Yoeli opened fire at the "Vampire" aircraft, and hit both its left wing and the center. It caught fire, and fell in a cornfield near Karmia. At the same time, Col. Tzidon led the other aircraft on while Col. Yoeli went in after it and opened fire. The shot was successful, and the aircraft exploded in mid-air. Col. Yoeli earned a commendation from the Chief of Staff for this maneuver, and the Prime Minister sent his regards to the pilots' mothers.