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Reading the second volume in Bill Norton’s granular three-volume history of the vaunted Israeli Air Force gives one pause. Since 1973’s Yom Kippur War, the high-tech hardware employed by the air arm of the habitually embattled state of Israel seems able at best only to hold the country’s irregular foes at bay in an endless standoff. With chapters titled “Lebanon Quagmire” and “Growing Complexities,” the message is that the IAF has struggled to quell the persistent guerrilla fighters who lie in wait on Israel’s borders. 

Still, Volume 2 points out that in the post-conventional war era, the IAF has scored major successes, like the September 2007 strike on the nuclear reactor being completed by Syria. While the author contends that Israel is more secure today, the existential threats never seem to go away as Iran’s nuclear program continues to loom. Interwoven with descriptions of the periodic flareups between the belligerents is a running commentary on the platforms acquired by the IAF and the systems developed by the indigenous aerospace industry. 

The trilogy’s final volume examines overlooked aspects of the IAF, including training and air refueling. But it serves mainly as a fact-filled compendium of the IAF’s past and present aircraft, featuring captioned photos of everything from the Avia S-199 to the Lockheed Martin F-35I. Both follow-on volumes, which contain sharp color profiles and unit insignia, are welcome additions to the excellent first volume (see the review in the January 2022 issue of  Aviation History). 

this article first appeared in AVIATION HISTORY magazine

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