Maj.Gen Amikam Norkin was appointed as the new commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF) Thursday, replacing Maj.Gen Amir Eshel, who served in the position for the last five and a half years and will retire after a 40-year military career.
At a ceremony at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Norkin, 51, who comes into the position after serving as head of the IDF Planning Directorate, said he was taking over an air force that had widened its capabilities and expanded its strategic connections with other air forces in the region and beyond.
“The IAF will absorb new capabilities in the coming years and widen its responsibilities,” said Norkin, referring to the 45 F-35 stealth fighter jets the air force is due to receive over the next few years. Thanking his predecessor, Norkin said had been a “brave pilot” who had taken the force “higher and higher.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman thanked Eshel for leading the force through a challenging period and said that Norkin would have to “make the IAF’s long arm even longer.”
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said Eshel had left his mark not just on the air force, but on the entire army, with his “courageous and creative thinking.” Norkin, he said, was a natural choice for the position after “years of excellence” in which he “fulfilled all the top positions the air force has to offer to its outstanding officers.”
Eshel said the IAF possesses “far reaching and unprecedented capabilities” that have the potential to “change Israel’s defense strategy.”
Congratulating his successor, Eshel said: “Amikam, I know you very well and I have complete faith in you. I have no doubt that you will succeed.”