That Time When Almost 200 Fighter Jets Fought In A Single Dogfight – Bekaa Valley Air War
In June 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee was launched by the Israeli government. The Army invaded Lebanon to chase away Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from the frontiers. That’s when the Air Force was called to prevent any enemy air strikes. Israeli F-16s and F-15 fighters were equipped with sidewinder and sparrow air-to-air missiles. Israel informed Syrians about their preparations for air battles and the Israeli pilots were ordered not to fire unless they were fired upon.
Israeli has a history of fighting with their neighbors. Battles that took place with Egypt from 1960 to 1980 resulted in some hard lessons learned for the Israeli Air Force. They lost a number of fighter jets to surface-to-air missiles. With the previous experience they have got, the Israeli Air Force attacked 19 Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries near their border. Within the first 2 hours of the battle, the IAF could neutralize 17 missile batteries without a single loss of their F-16 or F-15 fighters.
That was when the Syrian Air Force went nuts and sent 100 MiG fighters to intercept the 96 F-4s, F-16s, and F-15s that were destroying their SAM sites. The Israelis were using E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft and could detect the incoming enemy fighters easily. By the time the Syrians were flying the latest versions of MiG-21s. Other than that they were also equipped with better new soviet swing-wing intercepted aircraft the MiG-23 Flogger.
The more advanced Israeli fighter jets that saw the incoming enemy aircraft with the help of Hawkeye destroyed 29 of the Syrian Air Force fighters using their Sidewinder heat-seeking and Sparrow radar-guided missiles. The next day the IAF wanted to destroy the 2 Syrian missile sites that they left. Syrian fighters took off to attack the Israeli airforce and again they had to experience a huge defeat. IAF downed another 35 Syrian aircraft with no loss of their fighter aircraft.
This victory of the Israeli Air Force shows how powerful they were at that time. They had a lot of combat training and experience to defeat Syrians easily. Syrians had their weak point too, one being that they were communicating with the pilot from a ground control station that was jammed by the Israeli forces. Lt. Gen. Leonard Perroots, director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency by that time said that Syrians were lazy. “The Syrians used mobile missiles in a fixed configuration; they put the radars in the valley instead of the hills because they didn’t want to dig latrines–seriously.”