IAF Major-General Amir Eshel stepped down from his post at the Tel Nof Air Base on Monday evening, turning over the reins to incoming IAF Commander Major-General Amikam Norkin.
The ceremony marks the start of Eshel’s retirement after 40 years of service in the IDF.
Both IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and U.S. Air Force Chief of General Staff General David Goldfein attended the ceremony.
Goldfein is an old friend of Eshel’s.
In his remarks, Eshel said the skills of the IAF in offense and defense “have been tested in recent years, in thousands of operations across five arenas, both in close range and thousands of kilometers from home.
“Threats were thwarted, rockets were destroyed and aircraft were intercepted in the Middle East and beyond its borders.
“The Israeli Air Force gives the IDF unprecedented strength. Our enemies cannot imagine its quality and scope.
If we are forced to fight, they will be very surprised,” he said.
Norkin noted that the Middle East is “changing before our eyes. “The global transformation in the balance of forces and the changing battlefield continue to expand the responsibility and mission of the Air Force. It also requires us to continue developing our capabilities to deal with the challenges of the future.
“The Air Force will continue to acquire new and advanced technologies,” he said. “The Air Force of the future will continue to strengthen its ties with other air forces and strengthen Israel’s standing in the region and in the world.
“I take this command with confidence in our people and our capabilities,” Norkin concluded.
Eisenkot commented that terrorist organizations are working hard along Israel’s borders, “organizing and growing stronger.” The IDF, he said, “needs a very high level of preparedness against any threat.”
On Tuesday, the IAF is scheduled to hold its first aerial military drill under its new commander, in central Israel.