Airstrikes and Reconnaissance: “Sufa” At Work

Photo by Guy Ashash

Airstrikes and Reconnaissance: “Sufa” At Work

Photo by Guy Ashash

Airstrikes and Reconnaissance: “Sufa” At Work

Photo by Guy Ashash

Airstrikes and Reconnaissance: “Sufa” At Work

The squadron uses its photographic capabilities and goes out on flights to collect intelligence information on targets

Photo by Guy Ashash

Airstrikes and Reconnaissance: “Sufa” At Work

Hitting terror targets known and planned ahead of time that are based on intelligence information

Photo by Guy Ashash

Since the beginning of Operation “Protective Edge”, the “Knights of the Orange Tail” squadron operating the “Sufa” (F-16I) jets has been playing a significant role in missions: from the Technical Division to the Flight Division, the soldiers of the squadron have been working on airstrike missions and photographing targets for intelligence purposes. “We see the results and we know that we are a significant part of the efforts”

Noa Fenigstein

Since Operation “Protective Edge” began, the IAF’s divisions have continuously been engaged in the operational activity: the air traffic control and monitoring divisions have been managing the fighting around the clock, the reconnaissance squadrons have been providing intelligence to different divisions and the fighter squadrons of the force have been conducting airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip. So far, the IDF has hit over 550 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.

The “Knights of the Orange Tail” squadron from the Hatzerim airbase, which operates F-16I jet fighters, has been taking part in the campaign. “In fact, the squadron is currently performing a large variety of the IAF’s missions, both routine and emergency and is connected to the mission”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Tomer, commander of the squadron. “Nonetheless, the squadron uses its photographic capabilities and goes out on flights to collect intelligence information on targets, day and night. But no less important: we are always ready to perform interception missions to protect the southern borders of the State of Israel”.

The Technical Division of the squadron has been working in shifts, day and night, in order to keep the squadron prepared for a variety of missions. All the planes are always armed and are kept on alert. We work in long shifts and wait for instructions”, says Corporal Stav, a technician in the squadron. “The work hours are hard, but when the plane returns without bombs that we hung on it, there is a sense of satisfaction”, adds Eran Schwartz, Armament Team Leader. “There is always a sense of responsibility, but now we see the results and we know that we are a significant part of the efforts”.

Avoiding Hitting Civilians: Planning to Implementation

A mission of no less importance for the “Knights of the Orange Tail” squadron and the IAF in general is hitting terror targets known and planned ahead of time that are based on intelligence information and avoiding hitting innocent bystanders. “We are very critical of ourselves and we search for mistakes in orders and in the planning of targets, in order not to hurt innocent people”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Tomer. “We use precise weapons that allow us to attack many targets within a short period of time and in the right places”. In order to carry out an airstrike that is as accurate and success as possible, the aircrew analyzes every order, every location and every type of weapon needed.

“We put a special emphasis on understanding the targets, so that everyone will understand what needs to be done and why. Additionally, we have means of collecting intelligence that allow us to stop the strike in real time if it might endanger civilians” adds First Lieutenant S’, a weapons systems officer in the “Knights of the Orange Tail” squadron. “We see great importance in avoiding civilian casualties and this is evident from the planning stages to the implementation”.

 

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