For the first time, the Ministry of Defense, the IDF and the Israel Airports Authority landed a cargo plane with US military equipment at Ramon Airport near Eilat, and completed the preparatory measures in the field, to receive military and civilian equipment and aid in the case of emergencies.
The preparation of Ramon Airport to receive air lifted equipment constitutes the significant strengthening of the State of Israel’s preparedness to face military and civilian emergency scenarios. The operation (preparing the airport and landing the first cargo plane), was completed following several months of logistical and operational preparation and collaboration between the Directorate of Procurement and Production at the Israel Ministry of Defense, the IDF and the Israel Airports Authority.
Since its opening in March 2019, the Ramon Airport, named after Ilan and Assaf Ramon, has served as a substitute for Ben Gurion Airport in both routine and emergency scenarios. The preparation of Ramon Airport to serve the needs of the defense establishment in emergency scenarios, to receive international assistance in particular, is a significant operation that was planned within the framework of the joint Israel-U.S. military exercise, Juniper Cobra. Despite the cancellation of the military exercise, in light of the importance of preparing an additional airport for the reception of international aid, the Ministry of Defense continued with the operation as planned and completed it successfully.
At the peak of the operation, a 747-400 cargo plane landed at Ramon Airport. The Israeli CAL Company’s aircraft was leased by the Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP), in the Israel Ministry of Defense in order to deliver essential military equipment to Israel. The equipment was acquired by the Ministry of Defense Mission to the U.S.
The aircraft took a direct flight from JFK airport in New York to Ramon Airport in Eilat, carrying dozens of tons of military equipment, including military vehicles. IDF troops from the Technological and Logistics Directorate were based in Ramon Airport in order to receive the equipment and subsequently transfer it to various IDF units.
Deputy Director of the DOPP in the Ministry of Defense, Shai Halperin said: “We have concluded a long and complex operation together with the IDF and the Airports Authority. This is the first time that the Ministry of Defense has landed a cargo plane with military equipment from the U.S. in Ramon airport near Eilat. Today, we have another airport, aside from Ben Gurion, which is prepared to receive international aid and equipment, both in military and civilian emergency scenarios. We see great importance in having achieved this capability, especially these days, and in the face of the challenges that may lay ahead.”
“Planes will come here from the south, from the east and from the north. This is a huge change in Israel’s accessibility and its international standing,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the airport’s opening ceremony.
Ramon is designed to take any planes re-routed from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.
The new airport “will provide us with further and important strategic capabilities – at normal times and, as much as is needed, during times of emergency,” Netanyahu said.