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The 101st Squadron's 70th Anniversary Release date 03.07.2018
It is the squadron with the highest number of interceptions in the IAF, earning various decorations and home to many of the IAF's commanders: the 101st Squadron – the IAF's first fighter squadron – celebrates its 70th anniversary
Adi Leshem

The 101st ("First Fighter") Squadron was established during the 1948 War of Independence while flying its first sortie. The Egyptian army had already reached Ashdod on its way to Tel Aviv. Four "Messerschmitt" aircraft departed from Tel-Nof AFB – then named Ekron – and attacked the Egyptian convoy. They managed to stop the convoy's progress while under fire – this was the Israeli Air Force's first attack mission.

Photography: Koral Dvir

The 101st Squadron was the spearhead of the IAF's activity throughout all of its operations, both public and clandestine. To this day, its service members work with courage and determination. "It is the only 70-year old fighter jet in the IAF – it has a significant operational presence throughout the entirety of the air force's history. The squadron maintains its widescale operational activity to this day", said Maj. B', Deputy Squadron Commander at the 101st Squadron.

The squadron is known for its service members, many of whom have been promoted to significant positions in the air force and received many decorations. The pilot who holds the world record for most interceptions, Col. (Res') Giora Even-Epstein, served at the squadron. He intercepted 17 aircraft. "It is incredibly significant for me to be a part of a squadron with such a long-running heritage", said Lt. Y', a debriefing & instruction officer at the squadron. "Beside my pride, I also feel a great responsibility in maintaining our achievements and continuing to protect the citizens of Israel".

Archive Photo

101 Sorties in a Day
The 101st Squadron operates "Barak" (F-16C/D) aircraft in various missions, such as attack and reconnaissance. "An aircraft can be modified", elaborated Sgt. Maj. Shlomi Sharabani, a HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter) Commander at the 101st Squadron. "Even if the chassis of the aircraft is worn out, the technology can be improved. The 'Barak' is a reliable aircraft which has proved itself operationally for over 30 years".

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

"Dogfights and interceptions aren't the squadron's main goal these days, yet we continue to practice them seeing as it is an important topic. We practice air-to-air combat in two- and four-aircraft formations while also practicing interception of other aircraft besides fighter jets".

As part of the 101st Squadron's 70th anniversary, the squadron's service members attempted to successfully execute 101 sorties in one day. "Such a high number of sorties in one day requires a significant preparative process", said the deputy squadron commander.

Photography: Koral Dvir

A Progressive Spearhead
"The 101st Squadron constantly disputes conventions. We try to think critically", explained Maj. B'. Said critical thinking may have contributed to the squadron's impressive achievements. "It's a positive influence on operational flight which allows you not to take everything for granted".

"The squadron was established during wartime", emphasized Chief Warrant Officer A', who is responsible for munitions in the squadron and has served in it for almost 20 years. "The squadron was formed during a critical event which occurred while Israel was just being established. It contributed to the squadron's strength and image, so we have a lot to be proud of. Everyone would like to say their squadron is good, but we have history on our side. In our squadron, service members from both the technical division and the flight division gained a lot of knowledge passed on from generation to generation. This allows for everyone to perform their duty as professionally as possible".

Photography: Koral Dvir

Even today, the 101st Squadron remains at the heart of the IAF's activity – this year, it had the largest amount of operational flights in the air force. "The 101st Squadron continues to participate in operational activity, relentlessly holding onto its heritage. The theatres surrounding us are changing at an alarming pace and we continue to fly attack and reconnaissance sorties. You have to be prepared during operational activity while staying open-minded and vigilant – you can never know what's coming".