June 03, 2007

When Israel Gave America a Gift: Russia's Newest Warplane

Our sages teach us that every nation has a purpose. From When Israel Gave America a Gift: Russia's Newest Warplane:

The Mig-21 was considered the number one fighter plane during the Cold War, and the U.S. had no clue how it was built, what its weaknesses were, and what weapons should be developed against it. On August 16, 1966, a Mig-21 jet plane, the flagship of Soviet industry, landed at the Israel Air Force base in Hatzor. Captain Munir Redfa, the Iraqi fighter pilot who flew the jet to Israel, said that he decided to defect to the West because of the remorse and guilt he felt over attacking Kurdish villages with napalm bombs. But Redfa's defection was also the result of a Mossad-initiated operation.

A new movie produced by the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC) and Israel Television reveals that the idea to try and obtain a Mig-21 was first raised in 1965 by then IAF commander Ezer Weizman. The Mossad knew that Egypt had 34 Mig-21 jets, Syria had 18 and Iraq had 10. The movie includes photos of Redfa from a visit to Israel prior to his defection.

After a month in Israel, the Mig-21 was transferred to the American Air Force for testing and intelligence analysis. Thanks to this Israeli "gift," Israel was finally able to replace its French Vautour and Mirage jets with U.S.-made Phantoms. A year later, during the Six-Day War, Israeli fighter jets succeeded in shooting down dozens of Mig-21 jets in air battles, owing to the knowledge obtained from the analysis of the Iraqi Mig-21. The Iraqi pilot, Redfa, and his family left Israel after a short stay and moved to another Western country. Redfa died of a heart attack about nine years ago.