Barak approves Nehushtan for IAF

IDF officials say new air force commander might have to engineer strike on Iranian nuke facilities.

nehushtan 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
nehushtan 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan will be the next commander of the Israel Air Force, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi announced on Friday. The appointment was approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Nehustan, who currently heads the IDF's Planning Division, is scheduled to replace IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy in the coming weeks. A pilot with thousands of hours on his flight log, Nehushtan holds degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Northwestern University and Harvard University's Advanced Management Program. IDF officers said Nehushtan would face a number of challenges, most importantly preparing the IAF for the possibility that it may be tasked with attacking Iranian nuclear sites. He will also work to complete a number of acquisitions, including IAF plans to purchase a squadron of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, as well as Hercules transport aircraft. Nehushtan, 51, was chosen over deputy IAF commander Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel and head of the IAF's Air Division Brig.-Gen. Yohanan Locker. Nehushtan is highly regarded in the IDF and served as the deputy commander of the air force under then-chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz. In his current position, Nehushtan has gained praise from throughout the defense establishment, particularly for his role in formulating the IDF's new multi-year plan, recently approved by the cabinet. During the Second Lebanon War, he gave daily briefings to foreign journalists and is known for his British-accented English. Shkedy's resignation will signal a wave of appointments in the General Staff, including a replacement of Nehushtan at the IDF Planning Division. Other appointments expected to be announced in the near future are new chiefs of Military Intelligence and the IDF Human Resources Department, whose current head, Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern, is expected to step down in the summer.