Briefing the pilots
Once the order has been given, the squadron starts planning
Operational Planning IAF jets have struck hundreds of targets as part of Operation “Protective Edge”, from terrorists to weapons-filled tunnels. Hitting a target is a long process that includes rigorous planning at IAF Headquarters, the force and the squadron and lasts between a few months and a few hours
Since the beginning of Operation “Protective Edge”, the IAF has hit close to 1,500 targets across the Gaza Strip, which were planned months in advance and went through many steps in IAF. Even before the jet-fighters takeoff, the soldiers of the IAF check every detail that might go wrong during the airstrike.
The First Step: Deep In The Ground
The process of planning an attack on a target occurs regularly, but it is of immense importance in times of emergency. The planning team at the Operations Department determines who conducts the airstrike and with which weapons, based on information that is checked months and sometimes years in advance, taking into consideration different characteristics: the geographic location, the threats in the surrounding areas and avoiding civilian casualties.
Upon finishing the job at the control center which is located underground, the plan is presented for approval, sometimes even reaching the Prime Minister. Upon gaining approval, the target is entered into a database of targets and when the time comes, it will be relayed over to the squadrons.
The Second Step: Preparing for Dispatch
Kilometers away, the aircrews in the squadron are already wearing the g-suit and are ready for dispatch. The team planning the mission in the squadron looks for the most ideal path, the compatibility of the weapons that are needed and the best way to launch it. Avoiding civilian casualties is of immense importance during the planning process. The intelligence and navigation officers verify targets and the infrastructure near them, while the planning teams are ready to do what is necessary to avoid hitting civilians.
After finishing the planning in the squadron, a briefing on flying formations is held. The leader of the flying formation ensures that all the pilots learn the plan and prepare for its execution. During the briefing, they go over the targets, the weather and the configuration of the planes, safety, as well as different scenarios and responses.
The Third Step: The Language of the Technicians
In the “Flight Room” sits a senior commander from the Technical Division of the squadron and his job is to “translate” the order into the language of the soldiers in the Technical Division. It is critical to the mission that the Technical Division works quickly. “We have to be quick and very smart”, explains Chief warrant Officer Eitan. “Ultimately, the systems here run smoothly and when the time comes, everyone knows exactly what to do”.
The Fourth Step: Hanging Weapons
The soldiers in the underground hangers work quickly. “Upon receiving the order, we are all over the planes”, explains Captain Dotan Nachum, a weapons officer in the underground hanger. The technicians in the underground hangers start checking the planes and hanging the weapons.
“Even the smallest screw is critical to the mission and every plane contains a large number of details. There are many things that have to be verified and checked and all within a short time span”.
The Fifth Step: Off To The Target
It is hard to miss the sound of the jets engines. On the way to the target, the Air traffic Control Division verifies the target information and verify that the area is clear and that the conditions are optimal for executing the mission.
In a few minutes, IAF Headquarters will receive the following message:
“Direct hit of target, the planes are returning safely”.
Graphic design: Adi Nachum