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133 Squadron - The Knights of The Twin Tail

On April 1, 1976, The "Knights of the Twin Tail" Squadron was established. Its first commander was Lieutenant Col. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, who eventually became the IAF commander. Its establishment was the outcome of two years of preparation in the IAF Headquarters in anticipation of the F-15 "Eagle". On December 10, 1976 the first three F-15s landed in Tel-Nof Airbase. For a year, the squadron operated only four planes and only on December 15, 1977 the new fighter jets arrived. The first shipment of F-15A and F-15B aircraft was completed in 1978.

Although the squadron flew missions over Lebanon in 1978, it saw its first action in June 1979 when Israeli pilots encountered Syrian MiGs over Lebanon. On June 27, 1979 the squadron executed its first enemy plane downing. On the same day, IAF aircraft took off to attack terrorist targets in Lebanon, in order to lure Syrian aircraft to the area and intercept them. Around noon, four F-4 "Phantoms" from The "Knights of the Orange Tail" Squadron attacked in Damour city. During the attack, the Syrian Air Force launched four formations of improved MiG-21s and directed them towards the Israeli fighter jets. A formation of four of the squadron's F-15 Eagles that were on interception patrol at 15,000 feet, were directed towards the encounter. In the mass dogfight that occurred, the F-15s downed four MiGs. On September 29, 1979, while returning from a sortie on a winter night, the Major Guy Golan's jet crashed and he was killed in the accident.

On June 17, 1981, several F-15A aircraft from the squadron took part in Operation "Opera", in which they escorted some F-16s of the 117 squadron that carried out a strike against Iraq's Osirak nuclear development facility. Later in the year, Israel began adding F-15C and F-15D variants to the 133 squadron. The new F-15 variants were scheduled to be transferred to a separate squadron in 1982, but the commencement of hositilies against Syria in Lebanon postponed the transfer until after fighting had ended. During the "First Lebanon War", the squadron downed 33 Syrian aircraft.

On October 1, 1985, two aircraft from the squadron, with six other aircraft from the "Edge of the Spear" Squadron attacked the PLO Headquarters in Hammam-Al-Shatt, Tunis. Operation "Wooden Leg" was the farthest attack sortie in IAF history, 1,500 miles away from Israel. During the attack a number of buildings were destroyed, dozens of terrorists were killed and about 60 were injured.

In 1988, many of the F-15A and F-15B reportedly underwent several radar and engine upgrades, but the 106 squadron remained the primary F-15 squadron. On August 15, 1988, during "Dogfight" training, two F-15's from the squadron collided. The squadron's Commander Lieutenant Col. Ram Koler and Major Ehud Falk were killed in the crash.

During the first Gulf War in 1990, the 133 squadron remained on full alert for several months and took part in continuous air patrols until February 1991. During 1993, the squadron began vertical photography qualifications. Thereafter, the squadron acquired additional qualifications and in Operation "Cast Lead" over Gaza strip it took part for the first time in a "Smart bombs" attack, a qualification that positions it at the same level as the most advanced combat squadrons in the IAF. The numerous qualifications that the squadron added served it also in Operation "Pillar of Defence" in November 2012, when the squadron executed sorties in the Gaza Strip.

As of 2020, the 133 squadron flew exclusively 15A/B/D aircraft. The aircraft are undergoing an improvement process, in order to keep them active until 2025. The focus of the improvement is in maintenance and includes changes for preservation of existing abilities and optimizing safety.



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Page last modified: 24-02-2020 18:21:48 ZULU