F-15A "Baz" First Kills

1 - Introduction
Deliveries of MIG-23 and MIG-25 to Arab Air Forces in the Mid 70s persuaded the Israel Defence Force (IDF) to seek and Advanced ait superiority aircraft, even in small numbers.

Evaluation was performed between the two leading US Fighters being developed at the time, the Mc Donnell Douglas (MD) F-15 Eagle and the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.
The Tomcat performance was inferior to the F-15 in almost every aspect during this evaluation , then F-15A was selected by Israel.

The First F-15A (4 A/C) were delivered in December,1976

One of the Four first F-15A delivered to Israel (December 1976) at Tel Nof AFB

2 - Formation Involved in this Event

2.1 Formation "Groom" - 4 F-15A Baz
1. Benjamin Zin - F-15A -
2. Moshe Melnik - F-15A - A/C N° 663
3. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu - F-15A - A/C N° 689
4. Joel Feldschuh - F -15A - A/C N° 704

2.2 Formation "Thames" - 2 F-15A Baz and 2 Kfir C2
1. Yoram Peled - F-15A - A/C N°672
2. Guy Golan - F-15A -
3. Ben Amitay - Kfir C2 -
4. Shay Eshel - Kfir C2 - A/C N°874

3 - First Kills
On June 27, 1979, "Groom", a flight of four F-15s and "Thames", a mixed flight of two F-15s and two Kfir fighters were covering a strike against targets in the region of the cities Sidon and Tyre (Lebanon).

The Syrian Air Force (SAF) launched six Mig-21fighters to intercept the attacking aircraft, but when they identified the F-15s the MIGs disengaged. In a attempt to lure the MIGs back to combat, Israeli controllers ordered the striking aircraft to make additional fake bomb runs and to the F15s to take a South-western flight patch towards the sea. The scheme succeeded and once the MIGs returned to engage, the F-15s were vectored to intercept.

With their missiles locked at a range of ten miles, "Groom 2, 3 and 4" launched a single AIM-7 each, all missing their targets. As the MIGs and the F15s closed range, "Groom 2" spotted a pair of  MIGs flying three miles away and due to cross its flight path from right and below.The MIGs initiated a turning sequence when the IAF pilot switched to the new Python 3 missile and launched.
HUD View of the Python 3 missile launched by Moshe Melnik heading towards its target
The missile split the MIG into two and the explosion that followed marked the first world kill for both the F-15 and the Python 3.

"Groom 4" spotted the surviving MIG, locked and fired an AIM-7. Convinced it's a miss, "Groom 4" fired an AIM-9J when the AIM-7 began tracking and blasted into the MIG closely followed by the Sidewinder.
Meanwhile, "Thames" Flight arrived at the scene with "Thames 1 and 2", the F-15s leading the flight, watching the battle as they closed range. From a distance of six miles, "Thames 1" identified two Brown MIG-21s flying in a counter parallel course to his left and made a hard break towards them with "Thames 2" covering.

"Groom 3" was chasing the same MIGs, as they initiated a stepp dive to avoid the F-15s. "Groom 3" Fired an AIM-7 at the leading MIG, missed and rolled out of the dive, losing the MIG for few seconds. "Thames 1" shot a single AIM-9J well within of the missiles's firing envelope, scoring that MIG few seconds later. Too Close to launch missile, "Groom 3" jettisoned its ventral tank and chased the trailing MIG, preaparing to use the cannon. After some classic maneuvering, "Groom 3" fired a 20 mm burst at the MIG from 300 meters, sending it burning to the ground. Another MIG was shot down by "Thames 4", a Kfir Fighter also using the Python 3, scoring the Aircraft's first kill.

The Citation Certificate awarded to Moshe Melnik after the first A/C shoot down by a F-15

After the succesful day of combat