Kfir Brigade commands the sky for the first time with Skylark Unit

The Kfir Brigade trained for the first time with the Artillery Corps’ Skylark Unit in a recent brigade-wide drill that focused on aerial support

Date: 01/07/2013, 6:05 PM     Author: Yuval Tzuk, IAF Website and Noam Sharabi, Ground Forces Website

For the first time since its inception, the Artillery Corps’ Skylark Unit, which operates the Skylark unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), joined the Kfir Brigade in a brigade-wide drill. By attaching a number of teams to the drill, the Skylark Unit broadened the scope of the brigade’s training capabilities.

The Skylark Unit routinely operates alongside various IDF (Zahal) units deployed in different sectors, accompanying the maneuvering forces wherever they are required to act. The Skylark is equipped with special cameras which allow the artillery soldiers who man it to gather visual information in real-time, enabling both the protection of maneuvering forces and the gathering of intelligence on targets.

The Skylark teams that joined the exercise were quickly accepted by the Kfir Brigade’s soldiers, who learned to recognize the Skylark’s work and the significant advantage it provides in the field.

“The fighters understood that our help allows them to receive a current, real-time picture of the situation in the field, with a high level of accessibility at any place and time that they will need it,” explained Lt. Nir Zabersky, a company deputy commander in the Skylark Unit who commanded the company that participated in the drill.

Lt. Zabersky explained that in addition to its intelligence capabilities, the work of the UAVs in the field provides an important mental advantage for IDF (Zahal) soldiers. “Fighters who don’t encounter our capabilities don’t know how significant it is that there is a person who can tell you what you are up against and what’s happening further ahead,” Lt. Zabersky said.

Lt. Zabersky said that the high level of cooperation between the forces led to the drill’s success. “We learned a lot from the [Kfir] Brigade through the course of the exercise and I am sure that they also learned from us. Ultimately, only in the Skylark Unit are the soldiers who operate the UAVs not officers, which means that our soldiers are at a very high level. Each one of them knows how to understand the situation that the force is in and operate accordingly,” Lt. Zabersky said.

Wide-ranging aerial response

The Kfir Brigade augmented their aerial support exercise through close cooperation with IAF attack helicopters. The infantry soldiers and helicopter pilots trained together for the evacuation of casualties, aerial transport of troops, artillery assistance, and transport of munitions. The Kfir soldiers learned the nuances of aerial support including how to coordinate improvised landing strips for the arrival of support helicopters.

For the Kfir Brigade, this was the first exercise in which they received a wide-ranging and organized aerial response, and was conducted as part of the expansion of the brigade’s capabilities and field of activity.