Far From Home: Combat Helicopters Head North

One of the busiest frontiers: the northern frontier The changing northern front requires the IAF to deal with new threats and instability in neighboring countries. Cadets from the Operational Training Course of the Combat Helicopter squadrons learned about one of the busiest frontiers: the northern frontier

Noa Fenigstein

The northern front contains many obstacles: mountainous terrain, flat terraces, changing threats from the east and the north and instability in neighboring countries. Cadets from the Operational Training Course of the Combat Helicopter squadrons took part in a seminar, during which they dealt with threats typical of the area-outside of the classroom. “The main emphasis is on becoming familiar with the northern frontier from beginning to end”, explains First Lieutenant Shai, a cadet in the training course. “Instead of theoretical learning, we come here and succeed in understanding how to implement what we’ve learned in one of the busiest and most important frontiers in terms of operational activity nowadays”.

During an especially intense busy day, the cadets experienced scenarios unique to the skies of the north. “The north of Israel is a really diverse area”, adds First Lieutenant Shai. “You see the difference between an exposed flight and a hidden one and you adjust yourself to the changing threats. In the Golan Heights, you’ll deal with flat ground and in Mt. Hermon with mountainous terrain. At a certain border, you’ll fly at a low altitude, while at another you’ll fly at a high altitude. We learn about the threats around us in the best possible way: in the air”.

Knowing Every Centimeter

In addition to the aerial seminar, the cadets also took part in a ground tour in the north and saw up-close the area and the people about whom they learned. “Geographic familiarity is critical”, says First Lieutenant Shai. “We fly according to the environment and we have to get to know every centimeter. So we went to the main sites and even got an intelligence overview from the intelligence officers in the north”.

In addition to the geographic tour, the Operational Training Course instructors took the opportunity to strengthen cooperation with the situation room, which is responsible for observation in the area. “The combat helicopter pilots are in direct contact with the field intelligence observers during operational missions”, explains First Lieutenant Shai. “The field intelligence observers know the frontier better than everyone else. They help us in the territory and they do so directly. As part of the training, we came to see the impressive work they do, to understand their side of the mission and to strengthen the cooperation and the bond between us”.