The distance between Israeli military bases and the reactor site spanned over 990 miles, necessitating the violation of Jordanian and/or Saudi airspace before penetrating Iraqi airspace, thus making mid-air refuelling unfeasible for the mission.
The F-16 pilots assigned to the operation were; Ze'ev Raz, Amos Yadlin, Dobbi Yaffe, Hagai Katz, Amir Nachumi, Iftach Spector, Relik Shafir, and Ilan Ramon, whom later became the first Israeli astronaut, sadly perishing in the Columbia space shuttle disaster.
On 7 June 1981, at 12:55 GMT, the operation was initiated, and the Israeli jets departed Etzion Airbase, flying unchallenged through Jordanian and Saudi airspace. The Israeli pilots cleverly handled all communications in Saudi-accented Arabic while in Jordanian airspace and advised Jordanian air controllers that they were an off course Saudi patrol.
The Israeli aircraft crossed the gulf of Aqaba, and most unknowingly, flew directly over the yacht of King Hussein of Jordan, and with their Israeli markings in full view of the king himself.
Upon reaching Iraqi airspace the squadron broke up, with two of the F-15s moving in for close escort for the F-16s, while the remaining Eagles pulled up and away, to act as a diversion and as a secondary ready back-up.
At 14:35 GMT, 20 km from the Osirak reactor complex, the F-16 formation pulled away from the desert floor, and climbed to 6,900 feet before going into a 35-degree dive at 1,100 km/h, while aimed directly at the reactor complex below.
The United Nations Security Council issued a unanimous and almost immediate response on 19 June 1981, following eight meetings and statements from Iraq and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Security Council Resolution 487 strongly condemned the attack as a "clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct" and called on Israel to refrain from such attacks in the future;
The UN Council recognized the right of Iraq to "establish programmes of technological and nuclear development"
Pictured below: Israeli Air Force F-16A Netz #243, flown by Colonel Ilan Ramon in Operation Opera. Netz #243 was the eighth and last aircraft to release its bombs during Operation Opera. If you look closely, you will notice the most unusual markings representing a reactor kill triangular mission marking for the attack, a nuclear reactor silhouetted against the Iraqi Air Force emblem.
Image credit: Brno-Tuřany, Czechia