In 1974, the IAF assembled a test team for choosing an air dominance plane that would ensure the IAF's superiority over the Arab air forces for years to come. The candidates were the F-14 and the F-15, both of which were flown in the US by IAF pilots, who tested maneuverability, weapons systems and flight characteristics. The test team decided unanimously that the F-15 was a better plane, and one that could determine the shape of the battle and attain victory against every type of plane in the Arab arsenals. In July 1976, the F-15 Squadron's founding crew was sent to a retraining course in the US. The crew was headed by the man chosen to lead the squadron, now-General (res.) Eytan Ben-Eliyahu - who was IAF Commander. On December 10th 1976 the first Baz (as they were already called) planes arrived in Israel. The fact that they landed on Friday evening, after the start of the Sabbath, caused a political crisis that toppled the first Rabin government and lost the Labor Party political power in Israel for the first time ever.
To date, the IAF F-15s have shot down 40 planes, all of them Syrian. On June 27th 1979, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Moshe shot down a Syrian MiG-21 in Lebanese skies. This was the first time an F-15 pilot had shot down an enemy aircraft. On February 13th 1981 an IAF Baz used an air-to-air missile to shoot down a Syrian MiG-25. Again, this was a worldwide first.
On June 7th 1981, six F-15s escorted the eight F-16's which attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor. The F-15's mission was to provide the attackers with defensive cover against enemy planes.
Operation 'Peace for the Galilee'
The Lebanon War reinforced the F-15's reputation as an interceptor. Around 30 enemy MiG-21's and MiG-23's were shot down during the fighting. Brig. Gen. (Res.) Moshe: "we kept the Syrians from flying in Lebanon, and did it in the best possible fashion. Every flight of Syrian planes that tried to cross the lines and attack our forces in Lebanon was shot down. Sometimes a single plane out of the flight escaped and told the others the story of what had happened. We had a field day, basically, shooting down practically everything that flew. The MiG-21 and MiG-23, which formed the backbone of the Syrian air force, were crushed. As far as our squadron was concerned, the war was more like a shooting range."
Establishment of a second F-15 squadron of the slightly different C model was originally scheduled for June 6th 1982, but that turned out to be the day on which the war in Lebanon broke out. The planes were already on their way to Israel when fighting began, and they were immediately diverted to reinforce the existing squadron. When the war was over, the new second squadron was officially established.
In the summer of 1983, an Israeli F-15 staged a mock dogfight with Skyhawks for training purposes, near Nahal Tzin in the Negev desert. During the exercise, one of the Skyhawks miscalculated and collided forcefully with the F-15's wing root. The F-15's pilot was aware that the wing had been seriously damaged, but decided to try and land at a nearby airbase. It was only after he had landed, when he climbed out of the cockpit and looked backward, that the pilot realized what had happened: the wing had been completely torn off the plane, and he had landed the plane with only one wing attached.
A few months later, the damaged F-15 had been given a new wing, and returned to operational duty in the squadron. Many air designers had a hard time believing the story of the one-winged landing: as far as their planning models were concerned, it wasn't possible to fly, let alone land, with only one wing..
Operation 'Wooden Leg'
On October of 1985, the IDF carried out the longest-ranged attack in its history. F-15s attacked and destroyed PLO headquarters at Hamam a-Shat on the shores of Tunis, in retaliation for the murder of three Israeli seafarers at Larnaka, Cyprus, earlier that year. 90% of the base's area was destroyed; dozens of terrorists were killed, and many others injured.
25 new planes equip the IAF
In October 1993 the IAF received 25 F-15s from the USAF surplus. The first 5 planes arrived from the States after an one day stopover in Europe, and proceeded to an IAF airbase in central Israel.