Different aircraft, different missions, different squadrons. The IAF’s transport squadrons all gathered in order to compete and determine once and for all: which transport squadron is the best of them all?
Swimming, running and biking? For them its system-less navigation, low altitude flight and landing on dirt landing strips. Last week, the transport division held its annual “Triathlon”, which pushes its participants to the edge and has a clear objective: to find out which of the IAF’s transport squadrons best performs its missions in 2017.
The Men of Iron
One of the competition’s main complexities is the simple fact that the IAF’s transport squadrons perform a very wide range of different missions. One squadron, for example, can be tested on aerial refueling and cannot be tested on landing on a dirt airstrip. “In the transport division, each aircraft performs a completely different missions”, shared Maj. Maor, Head of the Transport Training Exercises Department in the Air Division. “Therefore, we measure each squadron according to the parameters of its missions. All of the participants performed a low altitude navigation mission with no ground aids, while receiving unplanned targets in the air. Beyond that, each aircraft continued to its unique missions”.
The “Knights of the Yellow Bird” Squadron, which operates the “Karnaf” (Hercules C-130) and the “Elephants” Squadron, which operates the “Shimshon” (Super Hercules C-130J) had to land in the field, on a dirt airstrip, without actually knowing where they were going to land. “In the competition, we faced scenarios we don’t train for daily”, shared Capt. Sa’ar, a “Shimshon” pilot who participated in the competition. “The mission-orientation clarified our priorities and completely changed our teamwork in the cockpit. Because we were notified about changes while in the air, the navigator had to study new targets during flight, so other aircrew members took responsibility for navigating the aircraft. These things do not happen on a daily basis, so it was great fun”.
“We rehearsed flight fundamentals, we ‘went back’ and flew without systems, we felt the field, successfully dealt with unplanned targets and refueled over ten fighter aircraft as part of the competition”, concluded Maj. Maor. “While preparing for the competition, the squadrons rehearsed unique scenarios and learned an important lesson in striving for victory”.
Brig. Gen. Eyal Grinboim, Nevatim AFB Commander, concluded the competition by asking the pilots in command of the aircraft about a single lesson they learned from the competition. One recurring lesson was the crucial important of studying targets before taking off for sorties. “What I learn from you is the importance of fundamentals and that is the competition’s purpose as far as I’m concerned”, said Brig. Gen. Grinboim. “I think we learned a lot and that mutual fertilization is critical to our capability to advance as a team and utilize the common ground between the division’s platforms for mutual learning”.
“A triathlon is divided in to three parts and so is the transport division’s triathlon: preparation, missions and debriefing”, explained Col. Amit, Head of the Training Department. “Today I learned how impressive and exciting it is to see crews work together in the cockpit”. And the winner is: The “Elephants” Squadron.