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Tel Nof [Tel Nov]
3150'N 3449'E

The Tel Nof [too frequently mis-spelled Tel Nov] Air Base is located off Route 4, several miles southeast of Tel Aviv [in the Negev near Rehovot]. Three of the IDF's key air bases - Ramat David, Tel Nof and Nevatim - are all located close to the pre-1967 cease-fire lines, known as the "Green Line." The facility has three runways -- two are 2,750 meters long, while the third is 1,830 meters long. The base is the primary operational and training center for all IDF paratroop forces, as well as the home of Unit 699 (a.k.a. Maslul), the Israeli Defense Force Airborne Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) unit under the Special Air Force Command (KAHAM). The ORT Israel - the Administration for Research and Development and Training -- operates the Air Force Industry School at Tel Nof. The IAF Flight Academy first opened its doors in 1950 at Sirkin Field near Petach Tikva. From Sirkin the school moved to Tel Nof Air Force Base and from there moved to its current location at Hatzerim Air Force Base. In addition to operational squadrons, Tel Nof is home to the MANAT (Mer-kaz Nisu-yei Ti-sa/Center for Flight Testing/FTC) evaluation unit which conducts flight testing and evaluation of aircraft and weapons systems. Thi unit is designated as the 601 squadron.

In May 1948 Israel hurriedly purchased a number of second rate Czech-made Messerschmitts. The planes were taken apart, transported to Israel at night, and secretly reassembled at Ekron (later to become Tel Nof AFB). On 29 May 1948 an Egyptian column, numbering some 500 armored vehicles and cannons, crossed Kibbutz Nitzanim on its way up northward. the IDF General Staff decided to strike hard at the advancing column and employ aircraft for the first time. The planes at Ekron were pressed into action, and the Egyptian column was halted near Ashdod.

On 29 October 1956 the 1956 Sinai Campaign began with sixteen Dakotas transports departing the runway at Tel Nof. On board were 495 paratroopers from the 890th Battalion commanded by Major Rafael Eitan (destined to become the IDF Chief-of-Staff). They reached their objective near the entrance to the Mitla Pass after a two-hour march and immediately prepared an emergency landing strip and a drop-zone. During the night, additional forces with artillery, jeeps and supplies were dropped by a Dakota and 4 Nords. Despite its success, this operation marked the last time an IDF paratroop battalion actually jumped in combat.

Aviem Sela was briefly appointed head of Tel Nof air force base, though later removed from this position after the United States placed pressure on Israel due to Sela's involvement in the Pollard affair. Colonel Aviem Sela had been head of Israeli Air Force Operations, and chief pilot on the operation to bomb Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor. Sela was one of Jonathan Pollard's handlers, and the only individual other than Pollard to be indicted in the US in connection with Pollard's espionage.

In June 1999 it was reported that Valery Kaminsky had been indicted for spying on Israel for the KGB. Kaminsky, who immigrated from Riga in 1977, denied the charges in the indictment. According to the charge sheet, Kaminsky worked at Tel Nof Air Base, and admitted to contacts with Russian agents. He was drafted into the Israeli army and assigned to the Tel Nof air force base, south of Tel Aviv, as a maintenance technician. He also was said to have passed technical information on to the KGB He was accused of handing over information provided by his son, who served in a secret army unit and had access to classified material.

Tel Nof reportedly is the location of nuclear weapons storage bunkers. This large airbase is located only a few miles from Tirosh, where nuclear weapons for its missions are reportedly stored. Just to the south of the Zachariah Jericho 2 training pad are several bunkers for contain nuclear gravity bombs for attack aircraft at the Tel Nof air base a few kilometers to the northwest.

Imagery of the Tel Nof Airfield
Click on the small image to view a larger version
July 15 1964
November 11 1968
October 12 1969
July 30 1969
August 6 1970
April 6 1971

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:52:36 ZULU