“Our job is to maintain communication control during every one of the IAF’s long-range missions”
“We are the only ones who communicate with the planes beyond the border” Every IAF military operation is based on communication, control and monitoring, but what happens when the mission takes place far beyond Israel’s borders? Meet the radio operators, who are responsible for communication control during the IAF’s most remote missions
In the summer 2012, two Hercules planes loaded with medical and rescue crews took off towards the scene of an attack, in which a bus exploded at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria. The control during the operation was conducted from a small room in the Central Control Unit, which is part of the Operations Department at IAF Headquarters.”Everyone was on their feet”, says Sergeant Matan, a radio operator in the Central Control Unit. “After the attack in Burgas, all the numerical data were first heard on the two-way radio in this room. Amazing things that I would never have believed I would be exposed to, happen in the radio operator room”.
The radio operators are responsible for communication with aircrafts during missions that are performed far from the borders of the state. So basically, neither the control units nor the control stations are responsible for communication during operations of this kind. As part of their routine, the radio operators listen to the two-way radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just in case the squadrons unexpectedly try to contact them.
As part of their training they learn how to communicate with planes and how to understand missions and even meteorology. “Actually, because we are the only ones who communicate with the planes beyond the border, we do a little of everything: a little air traffic control, a little bit of monitoring and some forecasting. During a flight, there is a lot of pressure and a sense of responsibility. All in all, we are soldiers in the IDF and we are doing critical work during military activities beyond the borders of the State of Israel. Great things really happen here”.The activity of the radio operators during the attack in Burgas is just a small example of the many, diverse activities that come out of the radio operator room. Professionally, radio operators operate under the IAF’s Telecommunications Division and they started their job as tactical two-way radio operators.
“Our job is to maintain communication control during every one of the IAF’s long-range missions”, explains Sergeant Matan. “Actually, this communication is based on long-ranged radio frequencies that can be accessed around the world. This type of communication is very reliable”.