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|1973 War Photos & Facts|
The Egyptian air force may not believe it won the air war of October, 1973, but it does believe that it was able to stay in the air and slug it out with the best the Israeli air force had to offer, that it denied the enemy the freedom of operation over Egyptian forces to which it had become accustomed, that it carried the attack to enemy ground forces in crucial periods and that it has knocked considerable chrome off the Israeli air force's halo of invincibility.
A Classic Shot
|Egyptian air force MiG-21 (note air speed boom lower left) makes a strafing attack on the Israeli air field at Ras Nasrani at the extreme southern end of Sinai near Sharm al Sheik in photos above. Attack was made as part of opening Egyptian offensive on afternoon of Oct. 6, 1973. Note three Israeli air force Mirage fighters parked (arrows along taxiway in the open (above). MiG-21 gun camera sight centers on two Mirages scrambling down runway for takeoff (circles) while bombs from other EAF strike planes explode on airfield.|
|Sukhoi Su-7 fighter-bombers attack an Israeli armored force logistics park in the Sinai early in the October, 1973, War. Note fuel tank trailers parked in revetments and armored vehicles on the move under attack.|
|Egyptian air force MiG-21 gun camera film shows attacks on Israeli air force F-4Phantoms during air battles over Nile Delta. MiG-21 gun sight is shown in circle of blips with dot in center. Bomb-carrying Israeli Phantom aircraft were primary target of MiG-21 interceptors during attacks on Nile Delta airfields and Port Said|
|Egyptian Air force Mig-21 reconnaissance cast shadow over grim scene in Sinai|
|Unusual MiG-21 gun camera sequence shows progress of dogfight with Israeli air force Mirage. MiG-21 is on the Mirage’s tail in lower left at start of combat and follows Mirage in steep climbing turn to score hits with 23-mm. cannon. Mirage fuel catches fire as Israeli pilot continues in steep climb. This was one of 22 gun camera - confirmed air victories by a single Egyptian air force fighter regiment.|
Cairo-Egyptian air force mounted one major offensive battle in the October, 1973, War and then fought a series of defensive battles to parry the offensive thrusts of the Israeli air force.
offensive was launched in the afternoon of Oct. 6, 1973, against a broad
spectrum of Israeli defensive positions in Sinai and began the Egyptian assault
that crossed the Suez Canal and established a major bridgehead on the eastern
bank, which the Egyptian army still occupies. It consisted of 220 strike
aircraft, including MiG-2ls, Sukhoi Su-7s, MIG-17s and Hawker Hunters, and l00
Mil Mi-8 assault helicopters.
They also claim
the destruction of the main ground-based electronic counter measures station in
Sinai and several Hawk batteries. As further evidence of the complete surprise
achieved by these air strikes, Egyptian air force commanders cite a complete
lack of Israeli radar and communications jamming.
The Oct. 7 sweep
against the Nil Delta airfields was the biggest Israeli air force effort against
these targets. Smaller attacks were continued on the 8th and 9th amid then
broken off completely. The main Israeli air effort shifted to the Canal zone
where it concentrated on attacking the many bridges and ferry operations across
the Suez. These attacks brought the Israeli aircraft within range of both the
Canal missile belt and the Egyptian interceptors. The Egyptian air force also
continued its strikes in Sinai against Israeli armor and supply columns and
dumps. All of the aerial battles in the Canal area started at low level because
the interceptors, both MiG-2ls and Mirages, were after the fighter-bombers
attacking at minimum altitude.
Whatever the Israeli motives, the air campaign never reached the point where the defenses were permanently suppressed and whatever was planned for phase two never was able to materialize. The air battles stretched over a period of five days, and each day the Israeli air force was able to beat down the defenses to the point where its commanders thought they were destroyed. SAM batteries were smashed, and the town itself was pounded into ruins, particularly the shipyards and other facilities essential to the operation of the Suez Canal. But each night the Egyptian air defense forces rebuilt their shattered system and were in action in the morning against the initial Israeli attacks. The Egyptians claim the Israeli air force lost 28 aircraft in the battles over Port Said to interceptors, missiles and guns.
air battles were fought over the Israeli armored breakthrough onto the west bank
of the Canal at Deversoir. These armored forces also captured a number of SA-3
and AAK sites in the Canal missile belt that temporarily gave the Israeli air
force a gap through which it could provide close support for the marauding tanks
against Egyptian counterattacks.
Cairo-Egyptian air defense commanders are puzzled by an episode that occurred late in the October, 1973, War when an Israeli Phantom was shot down in Sinai and the pilot ejected and parachuted safely into no-man's land between the two armies. The Egyptians routinely sent a jeep and two soldiers to pick up the pilot and were driving back toward their lines when an Israeli helicopter appeared. It disgorged a commando team who captured the Egyptians, spirited the pilot into an armored personnel carrier and sped off. "They never made that much of an effort for any other pilot during the whole war," an Egyptian commander noted. "it must have been very important to them. Could it have been one of their American pilots?"
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