Aircrew members of IAF combat squadrons took part in a special workshop in which they faced SAM (Surface-to-Air Missiles) launches. The workshop was held for the second time as the issue becomes major in the training program
Eilon Tohar & Vered Talala
The F-16I “Sufa” is sent to mission deep inside enemy territory, when a camouflaged SAM battery suddenly poses a threat to the team. The air crews now use their discretion and thwart the threat rapidly.
This scenario was presented to the combat squadrons during a “Hot area workshop” recently held in the IAF.
“This is an existing threat and we must be prepared for such event”, said Lieutenant L from the “First Fighter” squadron. “This kind of threat requires high mental readiness on the part of the aircrew members”.
During 1982 First Lebanon War, in Operation “Mole Cricket 19”, the IAF destroyed the Syrian SAM inventory in Beqaa Valley. During the operation, more than 20 missile batteries were destroyed.
The Second Lebanon War was opened with Operation “Density”, also known as “The Fajr Night”. During the 34 minutes air strike, a large portion of Hezbollah’s Fajr heavy rockets inventory was destroyed. In both operations, the air crew members had to fly under threats and complete the task with success.
Now more than ever before, the ability to fly through high “hot” areas is vital to IAF’s combat squadrons. Destroying enemy SAM batteries can dramatically change the balance of power during a military confrontation and the IAF thus attaches great importance to training for that scenario.
“The participants practiced a variety of missions while maintaining a formation that will allow them to react in the best possible way”, added Captain S’, leader of the exercise from the “Bat” squadron.
Fast, Complex Thinking Process
When a pilot faces a SAM threat, he must react as soon as possible and at the same time use his discretion. For example, If the pilot decides to attack the SAM battery, the ammunition designated to the original mission might ran out. The exercise was composed of these kind of dilemmas, the main of them being the SAM threat.