Israeli Air Force
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S-65 serial 702 hovers over a naval patrol boat.
(photo, Israeli Air Force)

Unit History:

118 Squadron

(118 Tayeset "Ha'Yass'uriet Ha'Rishona" - The First Albatros Squadron)
Role: Assault Helicopter/Transport

in the Autumn of 1969, a new helicopter squadron began to operate the first of the Sikorsky S-65C-3 heavy lift helicopters then being delivered. The S-65C-3 is similar to the HH-53C used by the USAF. Unlike the USMC CH-53A and CH-5D this model features sponson mounted external fuel tanks and an in-flight refuelling probe. These initial examples were new build aircraft procured via the USMC. Initial serials were in the range 31-42, before being renumbered to three digit serials.

Shortly after their introduction into service, the S-65s was involved in an audacious commando raid into Egyptian territory. On the night of 26/27 December 1969, two S-65s were used to airlift a complete Soviet P-12 'Bar Lock' air defence radar from a position on the Suez coast at Ras Ghareb. Super Frelons provided the troop transport for the mission.

Only about a dozen S-65s had been delivered by the time of the Yom Kippur War. Despite this, a number of heli-borne special operations were performed - including the landing of two 105mm howitzers on Jabel Attaka, a mountain just west of Suez city. The guns shelled the Cairo-Suez road for almost an hour before evacuation by a pair of S-65s. The S-65s also flew extensively in the casualty evacuation role - the S-65s alone transporting some 2000 wounded soldiers during the war. On 9 October 1973, a lone S-65, loaded with wounded, confronted four Egyptian Su-7s and four MiG-21s while flying over the Sinai. Several minutes of desperate manoeuvring later, the helicopter escaped virtually unscathed.

Ten more ex-USMC CH-53As were delivered in early 1991. These examples currently feature USMC camouflage and no in-flight refuelling probe, but will eventually be updated to the standard of the rest of the fleet. A further six examples are expected to to delivered shortly. Current base is Tel Nof.

Note: This unit is also thought to have flown another type previously.

S-65 serial 030 low over the desert.
(photo, Israeli Air Force)

Air Bases:
Base Duration
Tel Nov 1969-Present

Aircraft Used:
Type Qty Service Badge Example Serials
S-65C-3G1217 Oct 1969 - Present131,42,426,666
CH-53A10early 91 - Present1 875

Unit Insignia:
Figure 1
Figure 1 courtesy of Amos Dor

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First Created: 9 January 1998 - Last Revised: 30 March 1998
Copyright © 1998 John Hayles.     e-mail: