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Israel Air Force* cap bearing the official Israel Air Force flightwings and the IAF motto: "HaToviom LeTayis" ("The Best -go to the AirForce").
The air force of the Israeli Defense Forces. The current Commander in Chief is Aluf Elyezer Shkedy. It has approximately 1000 aircraft.
The IAF was formed when Israel declared statehood in 1948 and found itself under immediate attack. Its predecessor, Sherut Avir, was the air wing of the Haganah. The IAF's humble beginnings made its first air victories particularly impressive and noteworthy; at first, it was assembled from a hodge-podge collection of civilian aircraft commandeered or donated and converted to military use. A variety of obsolete and surplus ex-World War II (mostly Ex-Luftwaffe) combat aircraft were quickly sourced by various means to supplement this fleet. The backbone of the IAF consisted of 25 Avia S-199 (purchased from Czechoslovakia, and essentially Czechoslovak-built Messerschmitt Bf 109s) and 62 Spitfire LF Mk IXE. Creativity and resourcefulness were the early foundations of Israeli military success in the air, rather than technology (which, at the inception of the IAF, was generally inferior to that used by Israel's adversaries). During the 1950s, France became a major supplier of warplanes to Israel, but the trust between the two countries was violated just before the Six-Day War, when France declared an arms embargo on Israel. This had a two-pronged effect: Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) significantly increased its efforts and abilities in weapons production (initially based on the French models) and the United States replaced France as Israel's principal military-aircraft supplier, producing the majority of the IAF combat fighters from the late 1960s until today.