Wednesday, April 30, 2014

(En - 30 Apr 2014- News) Israel's fighter jets spying on enemy targets without having to leave country

The Israel Air Force shed some light on its fighter jet reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, revealing on Tuesday that one of its F-15 squadrons frequently uses advanced, long-range cameras to photograph enemy targets without leaving Israeli air space.

The Double Tail Knights Squadron, which flies out of Tel Nof Air Base, south of Rehovot, dedicates a significant amount of its operations to aerial intelligence gathering, senior members of the squadron said.

The targets under observation could be attacked at any time after being photographed and analyzed. “At times, the jets’ mission ends with the powerful noise of bombs, as the ground beneath them burns, and at other times, their mission is accomplished with the sound of a lone click, and the planes disappear as quickly as they appeared,” a report on the IAF’s official website said.

There are two types of aerial photography: Vertical and horizontal, Capt. M., a former photography officer who served in the squadron, said.

Vertical images are taken when the plane is flying directly over the area that is under observation, while horizontal photos, which have become far more common, can be taken from a distance.
“Today, because of threats [to aircraft], and [new] technologies that have entered the air force, we mainly use horizontal photography,” Capt. M said.

On most reconnaissance flights, fighter jets remain in Israeli air space, and take pictures of targets well beyond Israeli borders, such as a Hezbollah arms warehouse in southern Lebanon, or the location of hostile terrorist forces in Syria.

Lt. Omer, the squadron’s current photography officer, said: “Our sensors provide a very good picture, so that it’s possible to refrain from entering enemy territory, and still gather quality intelligence.”
During active combat, the squadron divides its time between attacking enemy targets and monitoring a variety of security sectors.

These include observing the combat arena and additional areas that air force intelligence believes might soon join the theater of war.

The air force has been investing increasing resources into aerial surveillance and reconnaissance. These efforts are led by the 100th Squadron, based at Sde Dov Air Base, which flies Bonanza and Beechcraft King Air aircraft in order to provide a continuous surveillance and reconnaissance service.
These planes operate alongside drone squadrons, used to help assemble a wide-reaching intelligence picture.

A fighter jet’s advantage in intelligence gathering lies in its ability to carry heavier, higher-quality sensors, and its self-defense capabilities against ground-based threats.
The visual intelligence is usually sent back to Military Intelligence, which analyzes the data, and builds up a database of targets.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

(En - 29 Apr 2014- History) How the Israelis got their hands on an Iraqi Mig-21 Fishbed

Built in more than 11,000 examples and acquired by countless countries around the globe, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 was introduced in several Arab arsenals in the early 1960s, becoming the most modern among the Soviet jets flown in the Middle East in that period.

After it entered the active service, Israelis feared that the Fishbed was superior to the Mirage III fighter jets hence they needed as much details about it as possible to assess its capabilities since any information about this new fighter could give to the Israeli Air Force aircrews an edge over the enemy pilots in combat.

Therefore, the IAF made it clear to Israeli national intelligence agencies that it needed detailed information on the MiG-21 and, preferably, an example to test.

The interesting story of how the IAF was able to procure a MiG-21 is reported in Bill Norton book Air War on the Edge, A History of the Israel Air Force and its aircraft since 1947.”

According to Norton, Captain Munir Radfa, an Iraqi MiG-21 pilot, was convinced to fly his Fishbed to Israel, with the promise that his family would be brought out from Iraq and that he would be paid $ 300,000 to re-establish himself in Israel.

After the transfer of his family initiated, Captain Radfa waited to be assigned a long range training sortie over the western desert during which he would try to reach Israel.
On Aug. 16, 1966, while flying in aircraft 534, a MiG-21F-13 Fishbed-C with a full load of fuel, Radfa broke away from his formation and made his way to Israel.

The MiG-21 flew across Jordan and entered Israeli airspace just south of the Dead Sea thanks to a flight path provided by the Israelis that would have avoided his detection by Jordanian radar stations.
As described by Norton, two Jordanian Hunters pursued the MiG, but the Fishbed flew at high speed at an altitude of about 30,000 ft, making the intercept impossible. Moreover the flight path of the MiG-21 to enter Israel was chosen far from populated areas, allowing the shooting down of the Iraqi fighter in case of false defection.

After Radfa crossed Israeli border, the Mig-21 was flanked by two Mirages IIIs flown by two of the best IAF pilots, Major Ran Peker, 119 Squadron Commanding Officer, and Lieutenant Colonel Shamuel Shefer, who was Tel Nof Air Base Commander, who escorted the jet to Hatzor avoiding sensitive areas.

According to another story, Radfa flew to Turkey escorted by U.S. F-4s then, after refueling, he took off again heading out to the Mediterranean Sea where it was met by IAF fighters that escorted the defecting Mig-21 into Israeli airspace.

Even if Israel tried to keep the defection secret, the MiG-21 sporting Iraqi markings was clearly seen landing at Hatzor escorted by two IAF Mirages. Almost immediately the defection gained the world headline news and Iraqis and Russians demanded the return of the aircraft. Obviously, the Israelis rejected these requests and applied the 007 number to the aircraft, reflecting the James Bond manner in which it had come to them, as told by Norton.

Finally Israel had its MiG-21 and Danny Shapira, the legendary IAF test pilot, flew it in mock air engagements against the Mirage III.

What he discovered is that even if the Fishbed was a good high-altitude fighter and an easy aircraft to fly, it was also underpowered in many important areas of the flight envelope. However the two aircraft were found to be nearly evenly matched, and it was the pilot’s skill and determination that largely  determined the outcome of an engagement between the two.

But aircraft “007″ also served in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service during the Six Days war, when it was painted with red stripes in order to prevent it from being mistaken for an enemy and attacked by other Israeli fighters.

Moreover the MiG-21 007 was sent to the U.S. in January 1968, to be evaluated alongside with captured MiG-17s, in a secret unit which had the task to fly Soviet combat aircraft against the most modern American fighters under Operation Have Doughnut.

In 1982 the Israelis requested the Mig-21 007 back, since they wanted to expose it in the IAF Museum in Hatzerim.
However, the U.S. sent them another MiG-21. Israel tried once again to have the real 007 but, once again, the U.S. sent a wrong Fishbed: at this point it was clear that the Americans had too many MiG-21s and Israel could only accept this last one that was soon put on display at the Museum.

Friday, April 25, 2014

(Fr - 25 Avr 2014 - Actu) Pas d'Airbus pour Bibi. Un Boeing 767 d'Occasion de $70 millions pour le 1er Ministre d'Israël

Une commission, présidée par l’ancien juge Goldberg et formée de membres triés sur le volet par Netanyahou a débattu des questions financières et sécuritaires concernant l’achat d’un avion officiel.
Bibi Netanyahou et sa femme Sarah ne vont pas sourire car le Goldberg Committee a recommandé cette semaine un budget maximum de $70 millions pour l’achat d’un avion Boeing 767 (une autonomie de 7 130 à 11 825 km) d’occasion pour transporter le Premier Ministre dans le monde.
Qu’en pense Airbus ? Aucun Appel d’offre ne sera fait.

Le Boeing 767 est un avion à réaction gros-porteur de taille moyenne construit par Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Il est le premier biréacteur à fuselage large du constructeur et le premier avion de ligne à être équipé d’un cockpit à deux membres d’équipage avec une planche de bord tout écran.
L’avion est équipé de deux turboréacteurs à double flux, d’un empennage conventionnel et, pour réduire la traînée aérodynamique, d’un profil de voilure supercritique. Conçu comme avion de ligne gros-porteur plus petit que les appareils précédents (tels que le 747), le 767 a une capacité allant de 181 à 375 personnes et une autonomie de 3 850 à 6 385 milles nautiques (7 130 à 11 825 km), selon les versions.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

(En - 09 Apr 2014 - News) Israel greets the long-awaited Super Hercules

A transport plane that can fly farther and faster than its predecessor, widening the Israel Air Force’s sphere of operations, was unveiled Wednesday at an IAF base in the Negev.

The C-130J, known as the Super Hercules in the US and as the Samson locally, can be refueled in midair, can fly 30 percent farther than the Rhino, which carried Israel’s troops to Entebbe, and can carry 25 percent more weight – in vehicles, paratroopers, ground forces and wounded soldiers.
“The arrival of the Samson today, after long years of planning and joint Israeli-American efforts, pushes further the operational envelope of the IAF and raises the bar on the missions it can reach,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said at the ceremony.
Speaking of the Israel-specific, post-production technologies added to the aircraft, Ya’alon said that those modifications “allow us to upgrade the strategic and long arm of the State of Israel and to operate precisely and effectively in any theater, in any sort of warfare, in the immediate vicinity and the more distant.”
Ya’alon, who has clashed with the US administration repeatedly in recent months, went out of his way to hail Israel’s “close and deep ties” with the United States. After referring to the relations between the two countries as “a cornerstone of Israel’s national security,” he thanked, “in my name and in the name of the citizens of Israel,” the US ambassador, the administration and the defense establishment for “the tremendous support that the State of Israel receives from you.”
The different models of C-130 aircraft, made by Lockheed Martin in the US, have been in use in Israel since 1971, flying troops to Entebbe in 1976 to free the hostages there and medical gear and personnel, for example, to Rwanda 20 years ago this month.
Chief of the IDF General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, also in attendance, said that the C-130J, which can fly close to the ground and land and take off on primitive airstrips, was of “decisive importance” and would allow Israel to execute “more complex missions, under any conditions, deeper [within enemy territory], faster and more clandestinely.”
IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said that the “diversity of capabilities that the plane represents borders on the imaginary.”
Noting the aircraft’s role as a link between the air force and the soldiers on the ground, Eshel said that Israel’s current security situation, a “campaign between wars,” is a “daily operation performed on all fronts.” The Samson, he added, “will be a leader in this field.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

(Fr - 08 Apr 2014 - News) Le Pape François choisit El Al

El Al Israel Airlines se prépare un évènement de classe mondial: le transport du Pape François et de son entourage, depuis Tel-Aviv, vers Rome, après sa visite de l’Etat Juif, le 26 mai 2014.

El Al a déclaré que le vol sera effectué sur un format spécial, par un Boeing 777 qui portera le logo du Vatican et dont l’équipage sera spécialement sélectionné (et en surnombre).

L’entourage du pape comprend 30 représentants de l’Eglise et 70 journalistes.

El Al transportait déjà jusqu’à présent des milliers de pèlerins chrétiens de partout dans le monde.
David El Maimon, le PDG d’El Al, « est fier d’avoir été choisi pour fournir ses services au pape et sa délégation lors de sa visite historique en Israël, et fournira à la délégation un vol spécial. Nous répondrons aussi à tous les besoins des pèlerins qui accompagneront la visite du pape en Israël, y compris des vols spéciaux. »

Thursday, April 3, 2014

(En - 03 Apr 2014 - News) Lebanon: Israeli jets conduct ‘mock strikes’

Israeli Air Force jets conducted mock air strikes over southern Lebanon on Wednesday and Thursday, Lebanese media and a government agency said on Thursday.
According to the official National News Agency, which quoted the Lebanese military, three Israeli planes entered Lebanese airspace on Wednesday morning, flew in circles over towns in southern and eastern Lebanon, even going as far north as Beirut, and then returned to Israeli airspace by 6:10 p.m.
On Thursday morning, Israeli jets were once again seen over southern Lebanon, this time conducting “mock raids… at a medium altitude,” the news agency reported.
There was no confirmation from Israel about any overflights of Lebanon.
Reports of Israeli overflights of Lebanon are frequent in Lebanese media.
Tensions have been high in last several months along the border, flaring occasionally into attacks on IDF patrols by Lebanese paramilitary groups and Israeli strikes against Hezbollah weapons shipments from Syria.

(En - 03 Apr 2014 - News) Air force halts training flights after near misses

The air force halted all training flights Wednesday following two incidents earlier in the week in which fighter jets nearly crashed into each other.
IAF chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel ordered planes grounded for 24 hours and called a meeting of all combat squadron commanders to review safety regulations. Despite the grounding, regular operational flights will continue as scheduled.
In both of the near miss incidents, F-16 jets taking part in training exercises flew closer to one other than permitted by safety regulations, the army said. According to Army Radio, one of the close encounters was only discovered during the debrief after the flight.
Last week, in a separate incident, a disaster was averted after a fighter pilot suffered a bout of vertigo mid-flight. The plane’s navigator assumed control of the jet until the pilot regained his composure and landed the aircraft.
In October 2012, Eshel took a similar measure when he ordered planes out of the air for a day following a series of near misses.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

(Fr - 01 Avr 2014 - Actu) El Al Inaugure les Opérations de sa Filiale Low Cost.

La compagnie aérienne El Al a inauguré les opérations de sa filiale low cost, nommée UP, avec une liaison entre Tel Aviv et Berlin immédiatement suivie par celles vers Budapest, Prague, Kiev et Larnaca.

Depuis le 30 mars 2014, la nouvelle compagnie spécialisée dans le vol pas cher propose cinq destinations au départ de l’aéroport de Tel-Aviv-Ben Gurion, à bord de Boeing 737-800 configurés pour accueillir 36 passagers en classe Premium et 144 en Economie. Toutes sont desservies jusqu’à onze fois par semaine, deux fois par jour du dimanche au jeudi et une fois le vendredi (rotation du matin), aucun vol n’étant proposé le samedi, à l’exception de Larnaca qui n’est desservie que jusqu’à six fois par semaine dont le samedi.

Le Tel Aviv – Berlin-Schönefeld est programmé à 6h20 et 17h20, avec des retours d’Allemagne à 10h55 et 21h55, en concurrence avec Air Berlin, easyJet, Israir et Lufthansa

Le Tel Aviv – Budapest s’envole à 7h05 et 20h30, avec des retours de Hongrie à 10h25 et 23h55, face à la seule low cost Wizz Air.

Le Tel Aviv – Kiev décolle à 6h45 et 18h35, avec des retours d’Ukraine à 10h55 et 22h55, en concurrence avec Ukraine International Airlines.

Le Tel Aviv – Prague est proposé à 7h15 et 17h15, avec des retours de République Tchèque à 11h40 et 22h15, face à CSA Czech Airlines, Smartwings et Wizz Air.

Enfin le Tel Aviv – Larnaca est prévu à 16h00 du dimanche au jeudi et à 21h00 le samedi, avec retour de Chypre respectivement à 18h05 et 23h00, en concurrence avec Arkia et Cyprus Airways.

Ces cinq routes serviront de test avant le lancement d’autres liaisons, a expliqué UP qui dispose initialement de cinq avions. Deux types de tarifs sont proposés aux passagers d’UP : UP Basic, où tout est payant sauf le bagage cabine de 6 kilos, et UP Smart incluant un bagage en soute, l’enregistrement gratuit, l’accès au salon King David à Tel Aviv, le choix du siège selon les disponibilités, services à bord et bien sûr une grande flexibilité pour les modifications ou annulations de réservation. Les passagers membres du programme de fidélité Matmid d’El Al pourront accumuler des miles sur les vols de UP, mais à taux réduit.

La compagnie nationale israélienne a donc choisi sa stratégie suite à l’accord de ciel ouvert signé avec l’Union Européenne en juin 2013, et qui sera mis en place progressivement d’ici 2018 : attaquer sur leur terrain les low cost européennes comme easyJet, Germanwings, Jetairfly, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Pegasus Airlines, Transavia, Vueling ou Wizz Air. Mais aussi se préparer à l’arrivée de Ryanair, qui annonçait en juin des plans pour desservir Israël depuis Brême et Baden-Baden en Allemagne, Kaunas en Lituanie, Eindhoven aux Pays-Bas, Oslo en Norvège ou depuis la Sicile.