The Experimental Missiles Unit celebrated 40 years. Past and present members got together to commemorate the jubilee. The unit’s experimental field was used for the launch of the new “Ofek 9” satellite several months ago. Members of the unit continue their meticulous work in handling the latest technological challenges
Yuval Shoham, Michal Visbrod, and Tal Michael
Only three months after the successful launch of the “Ofek 9” satellite, a special ceremony took place yesterday, celebrating 40 years of the unit’s active duty. The ceremony was attended by unit’s veterans, representatives of the office of national defence, and the former minister of national defence, Prof. Moshe Arnas. Heads of the IAF also attended to event: Base Commander, Brig. Gen. Itay, Head of technical supply Brig. Gen. Ran Levi, and head of the office for research and development of defence systems and infrastructure technologies (MAFAT) Brig. Gen. Ofir Shoham.
The ceremony celebrated the establishment of the unit, with its first experiment in 1969. “It was a secret experiment, which was the grand finale of a long and meticulous development work”, tells Lieut. Col. P. unit’s commander. “It served as the foundation for the unit, and led to the later formal creation of it. It was a long growth process, the culmination of which is with the recent “Ofek 9” satellite launch about three months ago”.
After dinner the honourable guests toured the new command center. “The new center allows us to do many things we were unable to do at the old facility”, says Lieut. Col. P. “For example, it allows us to monitor multiple activities at ones, such as a rocket barrage. This command center incorporates the latest technology, and is the envy of many countries”.
During the event, the unit’s veterans drew comparisons between what it was like back at the day and today. “It was all top secret, with many rumours about our work, but we never talked about it”, recalls Yehezkel Hazan, who served at the unit in its first seven years. “We felt as if we were part of a very special unit, with a special task. It was a great honour for me to be here today. There are people here that I didn’t see for 40 years!”.
Colonel (in reserve) Eli, the unit’s commander between 1972 and 1976 tells: “already at that time we were considered the most advanced unit of its kind in the entire region, needless to say how far we have advanced since”.
What lies in the future? “There will always be technological advancements and challenges we will need to overcome”, tells Lieut. Col. P. “the Arrow 3 battery, the “Magic Wand” system and many other things we cannot speak of. There are many challenges ahead, but I have no doubt that our human capital is rich enough to successfully handle them. Today is a day of celebration for all of us”.