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Syrian Reactor Mission Marking Release date 07.09.2018
Yesterday (Thursday), a ceremony occurred marking the IAF fighter jets which participated in the attack of the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 as part of Operation "Out of the Box" (named "Silent Tone" by the IAF). The attacking aircraft were marked with the operation's symbol, which has a nuclear reactor at its center
Illy Pe'ery & Nuphar Blitt

Yesterday (Thursday), a ceremony occurred marking the IAF fighter jets which participated in the attack of the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 as part of Operation "Out of the Box" (named "Silent Tone" by the IAF). As part of the ceremony – held in the Ramon and Hatzerim AFBs in parallel – the attacking "Ra'am" (F-15I) aircraft from the 69th ("Hammers") Squadron and "Sufa" (F-16I) aircraft from the 253rd ("Negev") Squadron were marked. On September 14th, an additional ceremony will occur at the 119th ("Bat") Squadron, which operates "Sufa" aircraft as well.


Photography: Noam Nachum

The aircraft were marked with a decal bearing the operation's symbol – a triangle, which symbolizes a strike sortie, colored in the Syrian flag's colors (red, black and white in the background with two green stars), and at its center, a radiation hazard symbol symbolizing the nuclear reactor. The marking was imprinted by representatives who participated in the attack, representatives of the technical departments who assisted in the attack and the squadron commanders, Lt. Col. G' and Lt. Col. R'.

On the night between September 5th and 6th of 2007, IAF fighter jets attacked a nuclear reactor being established in Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The reactor was destroyed as planned shortly before being officially rendered active. Operation "Out of the Box" lasted several hours and was completed according to plan. The operation was based on creativity, professionalism and courage, which were expressed by the participating aircrew members.

“Although Operation ‘Silent Tone’ occurred 11 years ago, its influence on the country, on the IAF and on the squadron in particular are felt as of today”, said Lt. Col. G’, Commander of the 69th (“Hammers”) Squadron, at the ceremony. “Operational conclusions, planning and performance infrastructure, techno-operational capabilities, munitions and systems, the squadron’s professionalism and more – although all of these existed in the ‘Hammers’ since its establishment, they were sharpened during the operation and continue to be sharpened to this day. I wish us that we learn from past operations, take inspiration from the ‘Hammers’ and look forward into the future with confidence, because together, no mission is impossible”.

Complex and Clandestine
11 years ago, at the time of Operation "Silent Tone", Brig. Gen. A' was an aircrew member at one of the participating "Sufa" squadrons. Now that the squadrons have marked the participating aircraft, he can speak firsthand of one of the most complex and clandestine operations in Israel's history.


Photography: IDF Spokesperson

"We realized that something was going on, but only three people were exposed to the secret four months prior to the operation: the squadron commander, the planning officer and I", he said. "During these four months, we began constructing the operational scenario during our exercises. At this time, none of the participants knew what was about to happen. We'd always trained in Israel's territory and simulated extremely specific strike scenarios, but we never learned the true goal. Training was increasingly more advanced and so was the operational plan. Slowly, the small group of operating aircrew members was coming together".

The secrecy of the operation did not apply to the participants alone, but also to the strike leaders. They made sure to prepare for all possible scenarios and prepare the squadron accordingly.

"We woke up one morning and realized that this was the day in which we were going to participate in the mission we had been preparing four months for", he elaborated. "As soon as we understood what was going in, we rounded up the participating aircrew members and began preparing for the sortie: I planned and edited the brief while the squadron commander made sure that the squadron was prepared for combat. We realized that following a strike of this scope, it's very probable that war may arise. We prepared for this option".

disgin by ranann weiss
disgin: ranann weiss

Indubitable Importance
The first formation landed at Hatzerim AFB around 2AM, and the rest of the formations quickly followed suit. Operation ran smoothly and the nuclear reactor was destroyed as planned. "We landed and debriefed shortly before going to the squadron building and making sure that we were prepared for war. After waiting for a few days and seeing that no war was in sight, we debriefed and began realizing the significance of our operation", described Brig. Gen. A'. "On the radio communication recording, you can hear how our voice changed as soon as we crossed the border into Israel. The importance of the event – both for us and for the state of Israel itself – became clearer and clearer. Not one of us ever believed that we would ever participate in such a sortie during our military career".

Eleven years have passed and the war that the IAF prepared for never broke out. Time after time, the IAF proves that it can reach anywhere in the world, no matter how far. We asked Brig. Gen. A', who had gained experience over the years, what would have happened if the original strike never occurred.


Archive Photo

"If the nuclear reactor would have been established successfully, Israel could have shared a border with an enemy state which has nuclear capabilities. Beyond that, the IAF's operational activity against the Hezbollah terrorist organization and the Iranian military establishment may have been limited by the looming nuclear threat. In addition, the activity in Syria over the past years may have turned out different if it had nuclear capabilities, seeing as they might have landed in the wrong hands. The operation is of indubitable historical importance to both the state of Israel and our neighboring countries".


Archive Photo