As the years pass, the cooperation between aerial and ground forces tightens. Throughout the past week, the personnel of the “Flying Tiger” Squadron received a close up look at the activity of the ground forces and became closely acquainted with the people they will fight side by side with in the future

Zohar Boneh

Aircrews may be used to sitting inside the cramped cockpit of a fighter jet for hours on end, but when they were asked to squeeze into the seat of a tank driver, even they had a hard time. Beside the many similarities between the aerial fighter division and the ground artillery personnel, one particular difference received a unique amount of focus: “their overalls looks more comfortable”, commented one of the “Flying Tiger” Squadron aircrews who are currently in OTC (Operational Training Course).

During the past week, the roar of jet engines was replaced with whistling wind, the squadron building was replaced with a post in the Golan Heights and flight suits were replaced with fatigues. Throughout the week, the aircrew members learned about the abilities of ground forces, how they operate, the challenges they face and how they view the IAF. Places that the aircrews remember as little specks from the air, suddenly received real-life dimensions. 

Between the Sky and the Ground

Photography: Zohar Boneh

The People Behind the Activity
It might seem that when discussing cooperation between air and ground forces, helicopters are the only cooperative aerial component. According to Capt. Roy from the Cooperation Training Center, “The closest cooperation with ground forces might be with helicopters, but many of the fighter division’s missions are meant to assist the forces in the front”.

For fighter pilots who received a mission, there is no difference between an operational command that began as a request from a ground division and an operational command that deals with a preplanned target. Either way, they must conduct their mission as accurately as possible.

“I want the aircrews to have a picture of a tank or battalion commander somewhere in their subconscious”, shared Capt. Roy. “I want them to remember his face, the difficulties he faces, the challenges he has undergone and know that they are taking off for their mission in order to help him. Not the ‘ground forces’, but these specific people that they have met”.

Between the Sky and the Ground

Photography: Maj. Ofer

A Response to Requests from the Field
In the past years, the IAF has proved that it is relevant as ever and necessary in maneuvering battle. A new and effective procedure has come into use, by means of which ground forces can scramble a fighter jet to aerial assistance missions and receive a faster response than they did before. The new ability that was initially utilized in 2014 Operation “Protective Edge” triggered the development of a fighter jet assistance process against urgent targets near maneuvering forces in order to improve the speed and survivability of ground maneuvering. 

“The IAF is part of the border defense mission and we always try to improve our fire response. This is a process specific to the fighter division, in which the IAF has made a dramatic change in its fighter response ability to all borders”, shared Lt. Col. Dror, Head of the Fire Support Branch. “Our goal is to allow quick fighter jet attack with the direction of the ground division”.

Between the Sky and the Ground

 
Photography: Zohar Boneh

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