Israeli Air Defense: A Short History

Shortly after Israel’s founding in 1948, the Israel Defense Forces was established — and along with it, anti-aircraft batteries. In fact, anti-aircraft units performed their first-ever interception about 24 hours after David Ben-Gurion finished reading the Declaration of Independence: an Egyptian plane attacked Tel Aviv and was shot down.

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IDF soldier with the "Hawk" - medium range surface-to-air missile

IDF soldier with the “Hawk”, medium range surface-to-air missile, 1965

On January 10, 1951, the Israeli Air Defense Command was formally established, under the command of the IDF Artillery Corps.

The "Patriot" - a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system

The “Patriot”, a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, 1990

In the early 60s, after receiving the the American-made Hawk surface-to-air missile system, the Air Force strengthened its ties with the Air Defense Command.

IDF soldier with the "Vulcan" self-propelled anti-aircraft gun

IDF soldier with the “Vulcan” self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, 1975

In 1971, the Air Defense Command became officially subordinate to the Israel Air Force. From that point on, all air defense in the IDF would be under one command: the Israeli Air Force.

An IDF air defense system during an exercise

An IDF air defense system during an exercise

In recent decades, the Air Defense Command has continued to acquire the most cutting-edge weapons systems that can intercept enemy aircraft. Today, the unit protects Israeli airspace from incoming rockets, missiles, aircraft and more.

IDF soldier with 20 mm Cannon

IDF soldiers with 20 mm Cannon

Among the most famous items in the unit’s arsenal is the Iron Dome, which can intercept short-range rockets. The Iron Dome has proven itself in battle — recently, it intercepted 421 rockets fired from Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense.

The "Arrow" system - anti-ballistic missiles

The “Arrow” system – anti-ballistic missiles, 2000


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