This month, a competition called “Final Result” tested the advanced skills of Israel’s pilots. In a series of lifelike simulations, squadrons fired at targets and dodged enemy aircraft to see who could take the contest’s top prize.
Earlier this month, Israel Air Force squadrons faced off in a competition that tested their performance under extreme pressure. In a series of intense exercises, they shot at targets, escaped enemy fire and practiced using advanced technology in IDF (Zahal) aircraft. The simulations were similar to video games played by millions around the world, but with one major difference — the competitors were preparing for real-life combat.
Using nothing but their eyes
In the first round of the competition, F-16 pilots performed complex operations without the help of advanced air force systems or other technology. Using their eyes only, the squadrons carried out missions while being chased by enemy aircraft. The purpose of the exercise was to test the pilots’ reactions during a real-life mission. “It’s a completely different world. There’s nothing that can help you but your sight,” said Lieutenant S, a female pilot in the Negev Squadron. “It required a lot of preparation in advance. We had to agree on assigned roles and even draw maps for the mission.”
The second scenario tested the pilots’ use of advanced computer systems. Their mission: to hit targets with water bombs and win points for accuracy. During the flight, the pilots faced a range of threats, including attacks by enemy planes and anti-aircraft missiles aimed at their planes. “The Air Force is all about the final result,” said Col. A, the commander of the Ramon Air Force Base. “The IAF is measured by final outcomes, which is why these competitions are a tradition. At the end of the day, what’s most important is whether you hit or miss.”
Firing from a helicopter
In a similar competition, helicopter pilots performed complex maneuvers in the air. The teams struck at targets while dodging enemy fire, gathering as many points as possible for accuracy. At the end of the day, the team with the most points took the top prize.
Israel Air Force helicopters flying high during an exercise abroad
In the first round, helicopters fired at buildings on the ground to simulate surgical strikes. The next phase was more complicated, requiring pilots to hit moving targets. Moments before the competition, squadron commander Lt. Col. M. spoke to his pilots and stressed the importance of the exercise. “Last year, we demonstrated advanced capabilities and proved that we’re good. This year, I expect a victory — no less.”
Prepared for any threat
“The goal of the competition is to test the will of the squadrons to achieve the highest score and give their best,” said Colonel A, a squadron commander who organized the competition. “Everyone who took part showed high motivation to succeed,” he added.
Although the exercise may seem like fun and games, it plays a critical role in preparing pilots for combat. As a result, Israel’s pilots will be ready to face any threat that comes their way.