Armaments: Then and Now Armaments: Then and Now Armaments: Then and Now The Armaments Division has always been essential to the success for the force’s missions; the soldiers of the division have worked day and night over the years to adapt armaments to the changing battlefield. “Thanks to the IAF’s technological development and the defense industry, we can reach a high level of precision”

Michal Khayut

Since the establishment of the IAF, the battlefield it has faced over the years has undergone many changes; from fighting organized armies of enemy countries, warfare has taken on a new form: fighting against terrorists operating in the heart of residential neighborhoods. One of the main changes that have occurred in the force in light of the new enemy is the change in armaments. Among other things, the Armaments Division must be a lot more accurate, so as not to hurt innocent bystanders. “The Armaments Division is a major player in the game-it can reach anywhere”, says Colonel Haim, Head of the Armaments and Aerial Defense Department at the Equipment Formation. “They used to carry out strikes using inaccurate bombs and this was less effective, today we use fewer armaments because they are more accurate.”

“Both in terms of quantity and in terms of accuracy, our target-hitting capabilities today are higher several times over than what they were during the Second Lebanon War, and they’re only developing”, said Commander of the IAF, Major General Amir Eshel this week. “The results that we get today are almost unimaginable”. Weapons systems in the force develop all the time and are based on the most advanced technology: lasers, radar, heat, and more. These technologies allow smart- bombs and missiles to hit a target in the most accurate way possible and to avoid hitting innocent bystanders in urban warfare, for example, during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, one of the main battlefronts of the IDF in recent years. “Thanks to the IAF’s technological development and the defense industry, we can reach a high level of precision”, stresses Colonel Haim. “This is a quantum leap”.

An Essential Component
The Armaments Division is significantly involved in most operational missions of the IAF: the soldiers of the Armaments Division have to provide the aircrew members with the right means to carry out their mission. There is a well known war story of the division about the preparations for a rescue operation of a hijacked El-Al flight from Rome to Israel on July 23rd, 1968. A group of hijackers took control of the cockpit and hijacked the plane and its 50 passengers and redirected it to Algiers, and demanded in return the release of Palestinian prisoners on the part of the Israeli government. This was the first time that an Israeli plane was hijacked in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the same time that diplomatic negotiations were underway, the IAF worked on a military operation that included two Bell-205 helicopters. “At the time, the only weaponry with which the Bell-205 was equipped was a 7.62 mm machine gun”, said Colonel (res.) Israel Aviv, a veteran of the division, during a conference held last week. “The question was whether or not it was possible to add “more serious” armaments in order to help the Special Forces conducting the rescue”. Ultimately, the operation was shelved and the Israeli hostages and aircrew were released after the release of 24 terrorists from Israeli prison, after 39 days of negotiation. Nevertheless, the Bell-205 helicopters were permanently upgraded and artillery was installed under its wings.