An F-16 Squadron in the Darkness An F-16 Squadron in the Darkness An F-16 Squadron in the Darkness Since the beginning of operation “Pillar of Defense”, noises of loud F-16 engines have seared the deafening silence of the Israeli skies. Responsible for the noise are squadrons of combat planes taking off one by one to the Gaza Strip

Michal Khayut

Darkness. The technical squadron of an F-16 squadron stands by the planes, which are ready for takeoff. Technicians are preparing for the flight: First Lieutenant David will seal preparations for flight and takeoff to the point of interest, which was sent to the operational room of the formation a bit earlier.

A short while later, First Lieutenant David shows up in his green suit, heading toward the plane in quick steps. Along with the crew, he quickly goes over the last tests before entering the cockpit. “Night flights are interesting. On the one hand, nighttime is calming and relaxing”, says First Lieutenant David, “But one the other there are elements of challenges and difficulty”.

The various squadrons have taken off into many nights of training, but this time they were not practicing. All the scenarios for which they had prepared had become real. Despite the intense training, missions of “Pillar of Defense” aren’t simple tasks. You have to reach a specific target, attack in a professional manner and avoid injuring civilians. “When I head out for a mission”, says one of the pilots, “I don’t want to hurt any innocent people”.

While the aircraft heads out for the mission, technicians continue working adamantly. “They are awake all day and all night”, First Lieutenant David says in awe as he watches the people arming the plane. “There is a lot of responsibility involved”, adds Major Nir Davidovich, technical officer of the squadron. “When an airplane can’t function and perform, that means we didn’t do our jobs. But that hasn’t happened yet”.