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(109 Tayeset "Ha'Emek" - The Valley Squadron)
109 Squadron was the first Mosquito squadron to be formed, and thus became
the IDF/AF's first dedicated attack unit. Forming in July 1951 at Tel Nof
(Ekron) but soon moving to Hatzor. It's initial equipment comprised various
marks of Mosquito, including some PR.16 variants which were converted to FB.6 standard. Unfortunately, a number of structural problems were discovered with the wooden airframe and the adhesive joints of the Mosquito, and the type began to be phased out from 1955. 109 squadron was disbanded in the spring of 1956 and took no part in the Suez campaign of 1956.
The first Mystere IVAs were delivered to 107 sqn in August 1956 (37
aircraft) including one photo recce variant - becoming the second Mystere unit.
Unfortunately, pilot training in France didn't commence until 1957! The
squadron's new mount was acquired to counter the increasingly capable MiG's operated by Egypt and Syria. After the Mirage III had been successfully
introduced into service in 1962, the Mystere IVA was relegated to the ground
Early on the first day of the Six Day War, 5 June 1967, Mysteres and
Ouragans attacked and put out of action the Egyptian airbases at El Arish, Jebel Libni, Bir Gifgafa and Bir Themada in the Sinai. That afternoon Syrian
airfields at Damascus, Marj Riyal, Dumeir, Seikal and T4 were also attacked by Mysteres. By the end of the first day four Mysteres had been lost to ground fire by the three squadrons then operating the type. A further four aircraft were
lost in close air support and interdiction sorties, in support of the advancing
ground forces, by the end of the war. Of these losses, five aircraft out of 15
were from 107 sqn.
109 squadron became the first IDF/AF unit to operate the A-4 Skyhawk, when
it received the first examples of the A-4H model in late 1967, possibly being
based at Hatzerim during this period. It mounted its first raid with the new
type a short while later in 1968, on an El Fatah terrorist base on the east bank
of the Jordan. On 12 May 1970, the squadron CO, Ezra Dotan flying aircraft '03' scored the A-4's first and only air-to-air victories, in the form of two Syrian MiG-17s.
As with the F-4 Phantom squadrons, it is impossible at present to identify
individual 109 sqn Skyhawk operations during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. However, the six squadrons operating the Skyhawk flew more attack sorties than all the other types combined, losing some 53 aircraft in frantic ground attack and close support missions to stem the Egyptian and Syrian advances. Virtually all of the losses were attributable to ground fire.
Since the early seventies, the Skyhawks have received continual airframe
and avionics upgrades. These include an extended jet pipe, dorsal avionics
hump, ECM/RWR equipment, rewired weapons pylons and improved attack avionics. The A-4H was later replaced by the A-4N.
In 1977 the unit converted to the Kfir C-1, using ex-101 sqn aircraft and
became the third unit to operate the type, being declared operational on 28
July. These aircraft were soon fitted with small canards to improve
manoeuvrability. In about 1981, the upgraded Kfir C-2 was received, together
with some TC-2 two seaters.
During the invasion of Lebanon, June 1982, and subsequently, the Kfirs were
often used alongside Phantoms in attacking PLO and Syrian positions. Most
notably in the suppression of Syrian SAM defences in the Lebanon Valley on 9
June, and in the siege of Beirut 13 June-12 July 1982. A number of C-2's were
upgraded to C-7 standard from 1983.
In 1991 the unit began to convert to the F-16C, finally catching up with
its fellow attack squadron at Ramat David (110 sqn), which had operated the type since 1988.
Figure 87 shows the Kfir version of the tail badge (the F-16 version is
given in Figure 25). The light blue background featured on the A-4s was changed to a red one on Kfirs.
*(with blue rudder)
FB.6||25?||July 1951 - Spring 56||1*||
PR.16||6||July 1951 - Spring 56||1*||
T.3||1||July 1951 - Spring 56||1*||
|Mystere IVA||37||Aug 1956 - 29 Dec 1967||2||07,15,60
|A-4H||24||1 Jan 1968 - 1973||2||03,05,09,21,28,52,221,277
|TA-4H/TA-4F||2||late 1967 - 1977||2||406
|A-4N||24||1973 - 1977||2||314
|Kfir C-1||20||20 July 1977 - 1981||3||710
|Kfir C-2/C-7||24||1981 - 1985||3||871
|Kfir TC-2||4||1981 - 1985||3||301
|F-16C Block 40||14||2 July 1991 - Present ||3||355
|F-16D Block 40||14||2 July 1991 - Present ||3||041,069,074,077
Figures 1, 2 & 3 courtesy of Amos Dor