Last Thursday, fighter jets and combat helicopters were deployed in order to intercept a recognisance balloon, as it disconnected at and carried away by the air currents. While mission in progress, it was decided to rescue it, and ground forces were guided towards its location using UAVs (unmanned air vehicles).

Gal Goldshtein | Translation: Nikolai Avrutov

IAF’s pilots are well familiar with the southern parts of Israel, especially the Gaza strip, where they are often required to destroy underground tunnels, used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza sector.

Last Thursday, the target was slightly different. “We are really not used to this kind of targets”, said Captain G., one of the pilots deployed to the mission. “It’s been years since we dealt with something like that”.

The balloon, flying at 1,000 feet was discovered by UAV’s, which then directed the helicopters of “The First Combat Helicopter Squadron”. When they arrived, it was decided to try and rescue the balloon.

“It was a challenge to locate the target”, continues G. “The dark night skies certainly made it a challenge”.

After about an hour, it was the UAV’s that discovered the balloon first. “It was easy to shoot it down at this point, but it is worth millions. its cable got caught at some shrubbery on the ground, which made it possible to rescue it”. Ground forces were directed toward the balloon’s location.