BLUF

Israeli Air Force planning, training, intelligence, leadership, and strategic thinking enabled Israel to destroy enemy air forces early in the six-day war.

Summary

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacks proved decisive in the 1967 Six-Day War with Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon due to: 

Preparation

  • Meticulous planning for over 20 years.
  • Soon after its creation  Israel decided to have an offensive air force equipped with fast, sturdy fighter-bombers capable of defending themselves and delivering precision bombing attacks upon enemy tactical, operational, and strategic targets.
  • Training all personnel to very high standards as shown in the Suez Crisis where the numerically superior Egyptian Air Force was defeated.
  • Continually improving ground crews so an aircraft can be rearmed and refuelled in minutes instead of hours.
  • Buying
  • Adopting the policy of measuring an air force by how many armed combatants it can get into the air.
  • Ensuring good relations with France for the supply of aircraft to avoid the Arab boycott against Israel.
  • Adopting the core mission of strategic pre-emptive strikes.
  • Continually rehearsing (and updating as a result of intelligence) all potential strategic, operational, and tactical missions that may occur without warning.
  • Ensuring that they had aircraft in the air at all times.
  • Maintaining focus on the destruction of the strategic war-fighting assets of countries that wanted to destroy Israel.

Airstrikes

  • Maintaining routine air patrol over the Negev Desert adjacent to the Egyptian controlled Sinai Peninsula.
  • Not conducting an earlier pre-emptive strike as expected.
  • Attacking when the Egyptian pilots were having breakfast after combat air patrols had been completed.
  • Striking when military and government leaders were on their way to work.
  • Dipping below radar coverage at the last minute.
  • Striking first before the more powerful Egyptian Army and Air Force was fully mobilised.
  • Attacking 10 of 18 airfields simultaneously using time-delay (in some cases for hours), concrete runway busting bombs.
  • Using anti-personnel bombs to delay runway repairs.
  • Destroying Egyptian fighter aircraft on the ground, including those about to take off with infrared heat-seeking missiles.
  • Utilising impeccable intelligence to be able to distinguish dummy aircraft.
  • Destroying all Badger Strategic Bombers on the ground.
  • Sparing one runway so Israeli forces could later use it. 
  • Rearming and refuelling aircraft in under eight minutes.
  • Carrying out eight sorties per day.
  • Using feints (pretending to attack some targets) to confuse Egyptian fighters. 
  • Attacking radar and antiaircraft missile sites.

References

Image Used: File:Six Day War. Levy Eshkol with chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin and Israel Tal in the Negev. May 1967. D325-046.jpg  - Wikimedia Commons