IAF ‘Night Riders’ Squadron Turns 50

Stand for Israel  |  August 17, 2020

Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter of IAF 118th Squadron
Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter of IAF 118th Squadron

Although relatively young, the modern state of Israel still celebrates important milestones. So do those who have defended her – and continue to do so. One of these groups, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) 118th Squadron – known as “The Night Riders” just turned fifty. To celebrate this half century of service to the Jewish state, the IAF spoke with five Israelis who served or serve in this unique helicopter squadron:

50 years ago, the 118th (“Night Riders”) Squadron was established at Tel Nof AFB. From the time it was founded until today, it has operated Yas’ur (Sikorsky CH-53) helicopters. The squadron carried out countless operations and missions, in routine and emergency. I spoke with five squadron personnel who served during different periods, from the first commander to the current one…

“The 118th Squadron is a Squadron with great spirit and heritage”, said Lt. Col. Y, the current squadron commander. “One reason is the fact that we have been operating the same aircraft for 50 years. Our heritage is marked with operational activity and conducting lifesaving missions of transporting troops, evacuating injured soldiers and rescuing forces in distress”.

The “Yas’ur” has a large cargo hold and is capable of covering long distances. “It is a unique platform”, stated Lt. Col. Y. “It is hard to describe the squadron and division’s contribution to the IAF’s operational activity”.

“The Yas’ur is a challenging aircraft to maintain, especially today. The challenge requires each soldier and crew chief to work very professionally and accurately”, said Maj. E, the squadron’s technical officer. “One of the aspects that makes the squadron so unique is the close connection between the technical and flight departments. The crew chiefs command the cargo hold during every mission. The close connection between departments created a family-like feeling in the squadron”.

“The CH-53 is a machine with spirit – I believe that throughout the years, the people’s spirit transferred to the helicopter. When there is a need to execute a certain mission, the squadron’s people know how to provide at the right time, said Col. (Res.) Keidar…

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