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Flight Course 176 Receive Their Wings Release date 28.06.2018
After three years, six stages and dozens of tests: the graduates of Flight Course 176 stood today (Thursday) on the parade ground in Hatzerim AFB for the last time and received their wings, officially joining the ranks of the IAF's aircrew members
Carmel Stern

Today (Thursday), a grueling three year journey has come to an end – the graduates of Flight Course 176 went from cadets to combatants. The graduates received their pilot wings in a ceremony attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, as well as the graduates' relatives, close friends and young cadets from the other flight courses. They arrived to honor the combatants, who are now responsible for the security of Israel.

Photo: Koral Dvir

"Dear graduates, the IAF's pilots have recently proved that they don't give up on an operation until it is performed, even when under enemy fire. This is the air force's DNA and you will carry it with pride. You will be the ones to win the campaign", said President Rivlin as part of the ceremony, which was held in celebration of the Israeli Air Force's 70th anniversary. The air force has participated in each one of Israel's operations since its establishment, both inside and outside of the state's territory. Its 70 years are decorated with a glorious legacy. Also present at the ceremony were the family of Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarski Z"L, who died during operational activity in Ramallah, and his crew members from the "Duvdevan" unit.

Stronger Than Ever
"The new pilots and WSOs, both male and female – we trust you and we are proud of you", said Prime Minister Netanyahu. "The varied capabilities and large operational experience of our pilots as well as the crews on the ground lead air forces from around the world to cooperate with us. They know that Israel is a main power in the Middle East, and so they choose to train here and share important professional knowledge with us. The IAF is stronger than ever. We equip it with the finest of weapons and technology, as well as the finest people Israel produces. In the crowded skies of the Middle East, characterized with high friction, the IAF demonstrates in power in defense and in offense, in deterrence and in cleverness".

Photo: Celia Garion

"Standing before you now, I see some of the finest commanders of the coming decade", said Avigdor Liberman, the Minister of Defense. "I see the best defensive force in the world, which is part of the strongest military in the Middle East. Israel faces various challenges and threats, both in the south and in the north. The security of the citizens both in the south and in the north, as well as every citizen in Israel, is at the top of our priorities". 

The Finest
"The IAF works every day in all theatres, from 'Iron Dome' interceptions, to terrorist tunnel destruction and through long-range missions behind enemy lines", said Maj. Gen. Norkin. "In offense and in defense, from the air and on the ground, in secrecy and in public, alongside both the ground forces and the navy – the air force is prepared, working towards Israel's strategic goals. Graduates of Flight Course 176 – in a few moments you will receive your pilot wings. These are a source for pride, for professionalism and humaneness, for your commitment to serving as personal examples".

Photo: Celia Garion

"The graduates standing before us aren't just aircrew combatants. They are Israel's society at its finest", added Maj. Gen. Norkin. "We look back with pride. Looking towards the future, at the beginning of the eighth decade to Israel's independence, we understand the challenges of defense and know we are prepared. The IAF will continue building its workforce and its service members will continue to aim high – above and beyond. I know that you will be there too. I know that we have people to rely on".

Photo: Celia Garion

After the traditional hat toss and the awarding of the pilot wings, an impressive aerial demonstration occurred in honor of the IAF's new aircrew members. "Ra'am" (F-15I) and "Baz" (F-15) fighter jets demonstrated dogfights, and afterwards the "Shimshon" (Super Hercules C-130J) performed a supply drop. "Saraf" (Apache Longbow AH-64) helicopters demonstrated precise fire while "Yanshuf" (Black Hawk) helicopters and SAR Unit 669 demonstrated evacuation of casualties. Later, "Re'em" (Boeing 707) aircraft participated in aerial refueling alongside "Barak" (F-16C/D) fighter jets. Later, "Ra'am" aircraft demonstrated their attack capabilities, and the aerial demonstration ended with an "Adir" (F-35I) flyby.