Attack Helicopters Go Head-to-Head

Attack Helicopters Go Head-to-Head

The attack helicopter squadrons of Ramon Airbase are known for the intensive cooperation among them, as well as their healthy competitiveness. So what happens when their capabilities are put to the test? “Epilog” competition is here to test just that

Eilon Tohar

The “Hornet” and “Magic Touch” attack helicopter squadrons of Ramon Airbase are used to practicing together in routine. But for one, long, intensive day, the Apache “Magic Touch” and the Apache Longbow “Hornet” squadrons went head-to-head to determine the best squadron of the year. “It was a very close competition”, said Major Oded, deputy commander of the “Hornet” squadron, the winning squadron in the “Epilog”. “It was a challenging experience which also boosted the soldiers’ morale and the sportive atmosphere within the sister squadrons”.

With the help of the high motivation that prevailed among the soldiers, the competition has also provided a good training for the soldiers. “For me. The competition against the different squadron is not as important as the competition against yourself”, added Major Elad from the “Magic Touch” squadron. “The time allotted for every mission was far shorter that what we are used to and the scenarios also included flying over ‘hot’ areas. The more complicated the missions are, the better you want to perform in order to improve your skills”.

Expecting the unexpected
The orders were given only two days before the competition. “We had only a general idea of what we are going to deal with during the competition. We know we must expect many surprising scenarios, missions that will be given during flight and scoring rules that will limit us significantly”, recalls Major Oded. “We must think about the scores before every action. There are cases in which you need to break one rule and lose some points in order to complete a bigger mission”.

The competition was opened by a joint debriefing for the two squadrons, led by the “Flying Dragon” squadron, which is the “Red” squadron of the IAF. The aircrew members were handed a map with 12 targets on it, each earning different scores and had only one hour to plan their attack missions before takeoff. “For me, this one hour we were given to prepare our attacks was the hardest part of the competition”, admitted Major Oded.

As the pilots reached the area of the mission in the air, they were suddenly told that the given time for the mission – 25 minutes – is now reduced to 20 minutes, forcing them change their planning during the mission. The competition also included night sorties which demanded canon fire over simulated targets.