IAF Commanders

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Amos Lapidot

December 1982 - September 1987

Lieutenant General (retired) Amos Lapidot, the tenth Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Forces, was born in Kfar Saba in 1934. In 1953 he enlisted into the Artillery Corps. After a few months he volunteered for Pilots Course, which he completed with honors. Lapidot then completed his operational training course on the Spitfire in Ramat David, after which he was placed in a Mustang squad and later a Meteor squad, at that time Israel's first and only jet aircraft. In late 1955 he was placed in an Ouragan squadron.

Lapidot spent twenty years serving in Hatzor: In 1955, with the rank of captain, he started his service as a young Ouragan pilot, and in 1975 he completed his time as commander of the base, with the rank of colonel. During the Sinai campaign he flew the Ouragan, as an escort for Dakotas which dropped Israeli forces over the Mitla Pass, and for the rest of the campaign flew the Mystère.

Lapidot alternated between flying in an Ouragan and Mystère squadron until 1961, when he was sent to France as part of the first team to learn to fly the Mirage. On his return he served as Second-in-Command A of Israel's first Mirage squadron.

At the end of 1962 Lapidot returned to an Ouragan squadron, this time as squad commander, and in summer 1965 he was appointed commander of a Mirage squadron, which remained under his control throughout the Six Day War. In July of the same year he left to complete a bachelor's degree in mathematics at Tel Aviv University. On returning to the Air Force he served as head of the Weaponry Department. In April 1973 he was made commander of Hatzor Airbase.

Lapidot commanded over Hatzor during the Yom Kippur War. During the war his Phantom was struck by an Egyptian anti-aircraft missile near the Suez Canal, but he succeeded in making an emergency landing at the IAF's Refidim Airbase.

In 1975 Lapidot was transferred to Air Force Headquarters, serving as head of the Intelligence group, and later head of the Air Group. In January 1980 Lapidot represented the Israeli Air Force in the United States, at a ceremony celebrating the IAF's receipt of its first F-16. He stayed there in order to study, and received a master's degree in financial systems engineering from Stanford University in California. On his return to Israel in 1981 he was appointed the head of administration for the IAI Lavi fighter aircraft, a matter to which he attached great importance, even after becoming Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force in December 1982.

Lapidot's time as Commander in Chief was characterized by severe budget cuts for the Air Force at the hands of the government during the extreme inflation of the mid-eighties. Despite this, Lapidot oversaw the introduction of new, advanced weaponry, which included the IAF's first Barak aircraft and Popeye missiles. Another important accomplishment for the IAF during this period was the strike on PLO headquarters in Tunisia, which took place in October 1985. In September 1987 Lapidot passed command of the IAF to Avihu Ben Nun, having taken part in 164 operational sorties.

In 1988 Lapidot established a private company, which consults on aviation, organizational and technological affairs, and he serves as CEO to this day. In addition, he serves as president of Friends of the Air Force, a member of the management committee of Tel Aviv University, and as of 1991, special advisor to the Minister of Defense. In September 1998 he was appointed president of the Technion University in Haifa.

Amos Lapidot
Amos Lapidot