Osirak: Over the reactor

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As part of a series marking 25 years since Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, BBC News speaks to four of the F-16 pilots involved.

Had mission commander Col Zeev Raz's risk assessment been proven right, one pilot would have ejected over Baghdad and another would have been waiting out in the desert for helicopters to rescue him in the night.

Yet the loss of two planes would have been a price worth paying in the eyes of the pilots of the eight F-16s and their two F-15 escorts: several believed they were averting nothing less than a new Holocaust of the Jews.

"No-one thought that all eight F-16s would return, no-one," the retired colonel says.

"We were really amazed that all of us landed back safely without a scratch."

Col Raz is the most vocal of the surviving pilots. For personal security reasons, three of them - Pilots A, B and C - would only talk to the BBC on condition of anonymity.

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