Soviet military pilots who entered into air combat with Israeli fighter jets lost 5 vehicles without knocking down a single enemy aircraft.
For forty years now there have been legends about this fight. 100 Soviet aces. The 50 lethal interceptor MiG-21 is the best at the time modification of the MF. The Russian “legion of death”, urgently redeployed to the Middle East, had to radically change the balance of power in the air.
Youth and anger. The desire to fight to the last drop of blood - as bequeathed by the fathers who took Berlin. Homeland will provide you with the best technology and learn all the necessary skills of a fighter pilot. Squad of winners. Thunderstorm air ocean.
For this fight prepared. For the decisive battle, the best of the best were selected - the 135 th Fighter Wing of the USSR Air Force, which passed special training at training grounds in the southern regions of the USSR. While the Soviet "falcons" cut their turns over the Crimea and the Caspian Sea, trying to go to the tail of each other, the Israelis swallowed the blood of the "war of attrition" and studied, studied, studied, practicing their own methods of conducting air combat.
Only old men go to battle - the best Soviet pilots against Amos Amir, Asher Snir, Abraham Shalmon and Avi Gilad. Only these four Aces had more than 20 air victories in the account. The Israeli Air Force Command rightly believed that there was no second such link in the world equal in terms of the quality of training and capabilities of the “air killer” squadron commanded by Amos Amir.
Two teams of professionals. Two scorpions locked in one vessel. Only one should survive. Bolivar will not make two.
Ahead - uncertainty. With a shield or shield. Warriors-internationalists, our country has given you a great honor - the right to represent the interests of the Soviet Union in the region of the Middle East conflict. I have no right to order. Here gathered volunteers. Please do everything right there and go back alive.
Leaving the room, he added in a stern voice: "Keep in mind comrades: if you are shot down behind the line of the Suez Canal, we don’t know you, get out yourself ..." (from the memories of the pilots about meeting with USSR Defense Minister A. Grechko)
Secret mission in one of the most dangerous hot spots on the planet. On the wings and the keel - the insignia of the Egyptian Air Force. In the nose of the fuselage - a tactical number, derived fancy Arabic script. The personnel of the unit, all pilots and equipment - “Ana Habir Russia” (trans. “I am a Russian specialist”). MiGs were based at Kom-Aushim, Beni-Suef, Janaklis airbases, periodically used the forward airfield in Katamia.
The all-seeing intelligence Mossad has already reported on the arrival of the Russians. These are not simple instructors, these people came here to fight. On the other side of the Suez Canal, a brief confusion arose: A direct threat to the existence of the State of Israel? But what about respect for neutrality? How justified is shooting at planes with Russian crews? Will this be a spark of the Great War?
"No, we have to fight," Prime Minister Golda Meir took the initiative in her own hands, "if necessary, go into battle immediately."
By the general bout carefully prepared - from the first half of April, 1970, began the weekly meeting of the Russian with the Israelis. Alas, every time, opponents dispersed in different directions, and not risking to join the fight. Israeli pilots closely watched the behavior of their likely opponents, tracked all their maneuvers and plotting patterns during the sorties, studied the control style of the Soviet fighters.
I saw the "Mirage" - do not turn!
Our pilots are considering the enemy with no less interest. Here he is! Literally a couple dozen meters away, the fat-bellied carcass of the Phantom slides. The American-made double fighter is just a giant - 20 tons of solid speed and fire - against 8 tons of maximum take-off mass of the MiG! The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom pendants are littered with a multitude of air-to-air cruise missiles, two engines, and a sophisticated on-board electronics complex. Extremely dangerous enemy.
F-4E Phantom II Israeli Air Force
And here - the arrow-shaped silhouette of the Mirage flickered. The graceful French fighter poses almost greater danger than the American “monster” - the Mirage’s wing load is less than that of the MiG — it’s risky for our fighters to engage in close combat with such a nimble enemy. The final touch to the portrait of Dassault Mirage III - two built-in aviation 30 mm DEFA guns.
Instead of the deadly and senseless "carousel" with French cars, Soviet pilots were recommended to "keep a distance" using their trump card - the great thrust-to-weight ratio of the MiG-21. Here the main thing is the position at the beginning of the battle and a portion of abrupt, energetic maneuvers that allow you to save energy, constantly remaining in a more advantageous position.
Dassault Mirage IIIC Gior Epstein - one of the most successful aces in stories jet aircraft
What did the legendary MiG-21 look like against the background of an armada of modern foreign technology? Small, light, fast interceptor - the MiG did not have super-power radars, Sparrow AIM-7 long-range missiles and impressive aim-navigation equipment - the combat capabilities of the aircraft were determined solely by the talent of the pilot. In general, the fighter was easy to operate, fast and reliable, and its excellent flight data allowed an experienced pilot to “sweep” any airborne enemy from the skies.
... By June 1970, the Soviet pilots made about 100 combat missions to intercept violators in the skies of Egypt, alas, every time Israeli aircraft refused to join the battle - when the slightest danger of a collision occurred, the enemy would immediately go deep into their territory. The hide-and-seek continued until 25 June 1970 of the year - on that day a pair of Soviet MiGs (pilots Krapivin and Salnik) secretly stepped in to intercept the Skyhawk attack aircraft — one of the MiGs-launched self-guided missiles P-3 hit the aircraft engine with the “Star of David” on the fuselage . However, the resilient Skyhawk managed to stabilize the flight and, smoked with a ruined nozzle, dissolved in the sky beyond the Suez Canal.
The intoxicating taste of victory demanded an immediate continuation - an ambush on Israeli Mirages was scheduled for June 27: Egyptian MiG-17 launched a provocative attack on Israeli positions on the eastern side of the channel - then, according to the plan, the Mirage link would have to rise to intercept arrogant MiGs . Egyptian aircraft used as bait will lure them into their territory, where three groups of MiGs with Soviet crews will enter the battle. Further, the enemy is simply smeared in the air.
The plan didn't work. Apparently sensing something was wrong, the Israelis refused to rise to interception. “Utyuzhuzhiv” Israeli stronghold, Egyptian aircraft calmly returned to their airfields. The trouble happened in the evening of the same day. The Egyptians repeated the blow - this time a Quartet of Miraj fell out of the burning heat of the Sinai air. They managed to lure into Egyptian territory, however ... there are no Russian fighters anywhere! The disgusting interaction between the Russian and Egyptian command did not allow the interceptors to be raised on time. The Israelis shot, as in exercises, two MiG-17 and with impunity left the channel line. The four "Russian" MiG-21s watched the beatings of the Egyptian MiGs, but the ground command bureau prohibited the engagement before the arrival of the other two links.
30 July was given a general battle. That battle, which was so long awaited and for which so intensely prepared. In a number of Russian sources, this event is held under the designation “Battle over El Sokhna”. Official Israeli title: Operation Rimon-20.
Over 40 years, this story is overwhelmed with such an inconceivable number of myths and legends that it is almost impossible to establish the exact details, character and chronicle of the fierce air battle between the USSR Air Force and Hel Haavir (Israel Air Force Defense Army) that took place on July 30 of the year. The only thing that can be talked about with some degree of certainty is: the approximate composition of the forces, the names of some participants and, most importantly, its tragic results - on that day several MiGs with Soviet crews were really shot down. As a result of the air battle killed:
Zhuravlev Vladimir Aleksandrovich - captain, senior pilot. Awarded (posthumously) with the Order of the Red Banner and the Egyptian Order of the "Star of Military Valor."
Yurchenko Nikolay Petrovich - captain, flight commander. Awarded (posthumously) with the Order of the Red Banner and the Egyptian Order of the "Star of Military Valor."
Yakovlev Evgeny Gerasimovich - captain, flight commander. Awarded (posthumously) with the Order of the Red Banner and the Egyptian Order of the "Star of Military Valor."
One thing is quite obvious - it was an organized ambush of the Israeli Air Force (it is called “Operation Rimon-20”). But how was it that the Soviet pilots were trapped? And why could not get out of it?
There are many answers. According to the bum-patriotic version of Israel, twenty Soviet MiG-21 pounced on the "defenseless" pair of reconnaissance Mirage (bait). Alas, to their surprise, the Russians found four fighter planes flying in front of them, so that on the screens of the Egyptian ground-based radar the entire 2 mark was displayed. Realizing that this was some kind of setup, the Russians twitched and SUDDENLY found themselves surrounded by 12 aircraft of the Israeli Air Force.
20 MiGs vs. 16 "Phantoms" and "Mirage." As a result, experienced Israeli fighter jets shot five Soviet aces, as partridges, and, without losing a single aircraft, returned to their airfields. That night at the air bases of Hel Haavir buzzed a feast - the happy pilots drank their prizes for the Russians they killed ... Happy End!
The version is vulgar and, of course, very far from the truth. For example, one of the noteworthy versions from the Ukrainian researcher V. Babich is as follows:
There was no 20 vs 16 combat. On that day, there were several fights, separated in time and space - and every time MiGs fought many times superior enemy forces - when one Soviet four got into battle, the other four MiGs were already leaving the battlefield with a critical balance of fuel. The Israelis have calculated everything and were able to achieve a concentration of forces in the right place and the right moment.
The first was shot down by Captain Yurchenko - his MiG exploded in the air from a Sidewinder rocket. A few minutes later, Captains Yakovlev and Syrkin had to eject - alas, when they landed, Captain Yakovlev fell into a crevice and crashed to death (there is a version that the canopy of his parachute was burned by a jet fighter flying by).
It is still not known exactly how Captain Zhuravlev died - according to eyewitness recollections, he fought alone against four enemy aircraft, until he was hit by a crazy Mirage gun cannon. There is an opinion that two Israeli pilots, Ift Spector and Abraham Salmon, who barely reached the territory of Israel in a damaged car, almost fell victim to it.
The explosion of "Mirage"
Israel’s ace Asher Snir’s Mirage was also damaged - the P-13 rocket fired into the plane damaged the aircraft, but the warhead of the small P-13 was too small to stop the Mirage’s flight - Asher Snir left the battlefield and urgently sat at the airbase Refadim (this is what his combat colleague Amos Amir writes about in his book Fire in the Sky).
Yurchenko - shot down, died; Yakovlev - shot down, died; Syrkin - shot down, he survived; Zhuravlev - shot down, died.
But what about the fifth shot down Russian aircraft? And he was gone! About the downed aircraft and its pilot is not known.
According to rumors, the Israelis managed to shoot down Captain Kamenev’s plane, but there is no evidence of this. In addition, Captain Kamenev himself subsequently continued to serve in the ranks of the USSR Air Force. Rumors, rumors ... sometimes they say that one of the MiGs made an emergency landing on one of the Egyptian airfields. No one knows what really happened.
At the same time, there are witness testimonies, according to which, after the battle, the Israeli search and rescue helicopters were circling over the battlefield - did the “unbreakable” Hel Haavir suffer any losses? It is not excluded. The operation involved a lot of "Mirage" from 101, 117 and 119 squadrons, as well as multipurpose fighter "Phantom" from the 69 squadron of the Israeli Air Force. There is a high probability that the loss of one (or several) machines was carefully hidden, and the results of the battle were falsified.
Without resorting to questionable conspiracy, the following reliable facts can be established:
As a result of the 30.07.1970 battle, the 4 MiG-21 was shot down, and three Soviet pilots were killed.
The credible loss of the Israeli Air Force was shot down by Asher Snir’s Mirage, which landed at Refadim airbase.
A sad and instructive story. Not wanting to “tamper with the facts” (we were not shot down, but we were theirs!) Or “find the guilty” (there were more of them! So not fair), I note that the Israeli pilots did have a number of serious advantages.
1. The Israeli Air Force had the opportunity to LEADLY study the MiG-21 fighter.
15 August 1966 of Iraqi pilot Munir Redfa hijacked the MiG-21 to Israel (Operation Penicillin). The plane was carefully studied, disassembled and even flown around - the Israelis got a complete picture of the design, combat capabilities and secrets of the Soviet fighter. The Soviet pilots, alas, did not have such an opportunity - familiarity with the enemy "Mirage" and "Phantoms" took place directly in air combat.
2. The Israelis used the latest tactical techniques - an excellent organization of combat, the use of EW facilities - squalls of radio-electronic jamming "hammered" all Soviet lines of communication, completely disrupting battle management.
3. Combat experience. The Israeli Air Force did have an impressive practice of conducting air battles - every day, for many years, the Hel Haavir fighters flew to intercept air targets - regular air fights in the entire altitude range, dashing chases and missile exchanges, departures to accompany strike groups ... Similar things lay their imprint on the organization of the combat work of aviation.
One of the clearest examples is the scrupulous coverage of the situation in the air: not only the current courses of the aircraft, but also their radio communications were applied to the combat tablet - this made it possible in a few seconds to sort out the situation and redirect the aircraft to where they were most needed.
4. The most important. Pilot training and control system in combat.
In one of the interviews, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, Lieutenant-General Mordechai Hoth, said: "We say the squadron commander just needs to be done, and he decides how to do it." Analyzing the results of combat sorties, the Israeli Air Force shifted the center of gravity of preparations for the battle to a link level. The squadron commander independently planned the scenario of the upcoming operation, using "homework" and the accumulated data on the behavior of enemy aircraft in the air.
Unlike Israeli pilots, Soviet fighters were shackled by a monstrous chain of prohibitions, recommendations and prescriptions. It was not by chance that immediately after the tragic events of 30.07.1970, all the participants in the battle were gathered by the commander of the Soviet aviation group in Egypt, General Grigory Ustinovich Dolnikov:
The meaning of what was said was that all prohibitions and restrictions on pilotage and combat maneuver were lifted. We had to start aerial training with a clean slate and be guided in it by our common sense, and not by a foreign conscience. The general urged us to believe in our own instincts and intuitions, and he himself pledged to believe in our common good fortune.
“Egyptian fighters in the“ war of attrition ”, History of Aviation, # XXUMX / 2
"Fire in the Sky" by Amos Amir (brigadier-general). UK: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2005