The IAF on the eve of the 21st century was a polished and professional air force. It is a far cry from the hastily collected assortment of surplus aircraft and volunteer pilots which flew in 1948. Today's IAF is a highly sophisticated force making use of the cutting edge of high technology and operating the most advanced equipment. The IAF of the year 2000 was a battle-tested air force with vast experience accumulated in numerous operations carried out in war and peace. Air combat, attacks on strategic targets, search and rescue missions carried out under fire and its humanitarian missions have earned for the IAF the respect of air forces throughout the world. The IAF today is the cornerstone of Israel's defense doctrine. It is a strong deterrent against enemy aggressive intentions and a solid defense in time of war.
Beyond Israel's peaceful borders with Egypt and Jordan , the IAF must deal with enormous challenges which threaten the State of Israel from all directions. During the Gulf War Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles. Iran is acquiring long-range missiles and may soon be able to arm them with nuclear warheads. Syria has taken a recalcitrant poisition and has dictated conditions for her negotiating with Israel. Negotiations with the Palestinians continue to be delicate. Israel's northern border continues to be a theatre of daily combat between the IDF and Hizbullah and other Islamic extremist organizations. Israel is fighting a war in southern Lebanon and is often called upon to pay a very dear price. The Israel Air Force is an integral part of this struggle. It demonstrates many varied capabilities in attacking and bombing terrorist targets, accompanying IDF elite units, using combat helicopters extensively, making use of UAVs , and evacuating casualties under fire. Despite the IAF's demanding security missions, the IAF does not neglect building up future force strength, and keeping up with the latest technology.
The Israel Air Force enters the 21st century, flying on the wings of the F-15I, advanced F-16's. The IAF deploys one of the world's most highly experienced helicopter forces, operating such helicopters as the Apache, Cobra, Blackhawk, and CH-53. Against the surface to surface missile threat the IAF deploys Patriot missiles and will soon deploy the "Arrow" . The IAF's air supply system is upgrading the Hercules as well as light transport aircraft. The IAF's command and control component employs the best means available in order to ensure a comprehensive picture of the air arena.
Throughout the entire theatre of operations, in all units, the IAF employs the most advanced systems of all times, most made in Israel, planned and build upon the combat experience and technological advantage enjoyed by the IAF and the State of Israel.
Alongside sophisticated, hi-tech weapons systems the IAF has a modern organizational philosophy whose role is to develop and streamline the management of human resources. This task is rendered more difficult in the age of massive immigration to Israel, with the differences in languages and customs among recruits. The organizational philosophy of the "air force family" has been a model for emulation among other services. This is a guarantee that the IAF will continue to meet the challenges of the future.
There is still no alternative to excellence, no room for a second-place finish. To better understand how the IAF performs its mission, one should first become acquainted with the neighborhood in which it operates.