The Ofira Furball

By Sierra Hotel Aeronautics

October 6th 1973, a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria, launched a massive surprise strike on the state of Israel. Well over 200 Egyptian aircraft participating in the opening airstrike, including 20 Egyptian Air Force MiG-17s, and eight MiG-21 escorts, that had specifically targeted the Israeli Air Force Base Ofir at Sharm el-Sheikh, located on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula.

At 9:00 AM, only two IAF 107 Squadron F-4E Phantoms were present at Ofir. The two Phantoms, were crewed by pilot Amir Nahumi, GIB Yossi Yavin, and pilot Daniel Shaki GIB David Regev. All relatively low time experience wise at the time of the incident.

At 1:50 PM multiple clusters of targets were detected inbound, low altitude. The sirens were sounded, and the two Phantoms were launched. Moments later, the MiGs appeared over the mountains, and started their attack on the base. Lead pilot Nahumi called for the two Phantoms drop their external tanks, and break, with one covering the airspace East of the base, and the other would cover the West. Nahumi was the first to get into the fur ball when he engaged a MiG -21, which he successfully shot down with the launch of a Sidewinder missile.

Turning back towards his base, Nahumi dropped behind a MiG on a low altitude strafing run. Positioning himself just over the base rooftops, directly behind his prey, Nahumi opened fire with his gattling gun, missed…only soon to discover that he had suffered a compressor stall caused by his cannon burst. Quick restart as he attempted to climb his stricken jet, then noticing a MiG coming around. The two were “head to head” at a high closure speed when a quick cannon burst took out the second adversary aircraft.

At this time, the second Phantom commanded by Shake had already shot down 3 Egyptian Air Force MiGs, when the two Israeli jets noticed an additional flight of MiG-17s commencing an attack on a communications unit nearby. The two Phantoms jumped the attacking aircraft. With afterburners light up, Nuhami closed to a distance of 600 meters, selected a guided missile, and successfully struck his target. As he broke away from the fireball, a MiG was observed in a descending turn, contacting the surface of the water, but managing to remain airborne…the remaining MiGs well…we have to say it. The remaining MiGs bugged out.

The two Phantoms were running low on fuel, and decided to break off their now offensive position, and return to base. That day, two Phantoms were launched against 28 enemy aircraft…and after a short knife fight in a phone booth, 7 enemy aircraft were shot down, and the airstrike was successfully repelled.  With the remainder of the attack force headed Westbound back towards the safety of Egyptian airspace, the two Israeli Phantoms touched down with all crew accounted for.  

We aren’t going to get all biblical here, but the dogfight took place in the skies near Mt Sinai, the mountain that Moses climbed…so perhaps the Jewish pilots had the home field advantage.

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