When the Paratroopers’ snake met the Viper squadron

The IAF’s Viper squadron and the Paratroopers’ Saraph reconnaissance battalion have a special connection, working closely and training together

Date: 12/03/2012, 5:40 PM     Author: Shir Aharon Baram, IAF website

The Paratrooper Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion is designed to be the tip of the spear of the “red brigade”. They strengthen the reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, specialize in anti-tank warfare, and assist in mine detection and to engage in complex strike plans. Hence the name “Saraph” [Israeli Mole Viper], one of Israel’s most dangerous venomous snakes – which is why it is fitting that the battalion works in close cooperation with the IAF’s Viper squadron of attack helicopters.

“We forged a deep cooperation with the Paratroop Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion. The familiarity with the fighters very much assists our work with them,” said Lt. Col. N., commander of the first attack helicopters squadron. “We recently had a special training – we staged ambushes. Two weeks later I did a flight exercise there and it made it much easier for me that I had a deeper, closer knowledge of the area.” The ambushes were prepared without the knowledge of the Viper pilots, one day they received the order to change into work uniforms, to sign on for a weapon and travel into the field. “It was an extraordinary experience,” they said later that night.

In combat, attack helicopters are often mobilized in order to provide aerial support for ground forces, hence the cooperative framework between the reconnaissance battalion and the helicopter squadron. They conduct training exercises together in which the Paratroopers direct the Viper attack helicopters. “We operate joint training exercises and debrief them together afterwards, thus learning from each other,” explained Cpt. Amit, the squadron’s cooperation officer. “In addition to the professional content, we develop great relations with the guys from the battalion,” he said with a smile, “we do fitness and endurance training, and even play some soccer.”