Ilan Ramon with his F-16
Ilan Ramon with his F-16Israel news photo: Flash 90/archive

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz announced Sunday that the airport that will be built at Timna, near Eilat, will be named after Ilan and Assaf Ramon.

Ilan Ramon was one of the eight F-16 pilots who bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981, preventing dictator Saddam Hussein from obtaining nuclear weapons. He was also the first Israeli astronaut, and was killed when the space shuttle Columbia exploded upon re-entering the earth's atmosphere.

His son Assaf was also an IAF pilot. He was killed in a training accident last year.

Minister Katz hosted Rona Ramon – widow of Ilan and mother of Assaf – at his home along with former IAF Commander Eliezer Shkedi, and told them of the decision to name the airport after the father and son. Katz handed Ramon a model of the airport that is to be built over the next three years at an estimated cost of 1.7 billion shekels.

Rona Ramon said she was moved by the initiative and noted that both Ilan and Assaf loved the Negev desert.