IAF Defends Israel’s Maritime Borders IAF Defends Israel’s Maritime Borders

The “Defenders of the West” helicopters squadron works in cooperation with the Israeli Navy on a regular basis In light of the need for protection against increasing threats from Israel’s maritime borders, this week the Israeli Navy trained with the “Defenders of the West” squadron and practiced operating in times of emergency

Shachar Zorani

The “Defenders of the West” squadron took part in an Israeli Navy exercise last week: the ships and helicopters practiced scenarios simulating a war at sea. During the exercise, the aircrews and sea crews dealt with unplanned situations. “During the exercise, the crews were forced to deal with scenarios in which the ships were damaged”, says Major Avishai, Deputy Commander of the squadron. “They practiced rescuing from the ships and worked on mutual assistance between the IAF and the Israeli Navy”.

The different teams were briefed in a briefing similar to that of a real war. In light of the increasing threats to Israel’s territorial waters, the crux of the exercise was naval warfare. “We practiced scenarios that were unknown so we had to use the experience and knowledge we have accumulated over the years and to adjust them to the changing reality”, explains Major Avishai.

The Heart of The Mission
While the exercise is held several times a year, each time the emphasis changes and the participants practice another scenario. During the exercise, the “Panther” helicopters operated according to the needs of the “Shayetet 3” missile boats and joined forces for the success of the exercise. “Protecting Israel maritime borders during a war and during the routine is the main mission of the Israeli Navy”, adds Major Avishai. “As an aircrew, we cooperate with them in the helicopter and execute the mission together with the ships”.

During the training, every plane was appointed a commander from the squadron who commanded the aircrews and was the official responsible for communication between the helicopters and the ships. At the same time he and his soldiers had to understand their missions and execute them in the face of the unexpected. “The training was successful, interesting and unique”, adds Major Avishai. “It prepared the aircrews and sea crews for wartime scenarios and trained them to deal with a variety of surprising situations.”

Together Even During the Routine
The “Defenders of the West” helicopters squadron works in cooperation with the Israeli Navy on a regular basis. During its routine, just as during the exercise, its work is done in tandem with “Shayetet 3”, but in times of need, other missions are carried out by it. The helicopter crew consists of aircrew members and an airborne patrol officer from the Israeli Navy. As you could imagine, the helicopter is designed to work at sea and to execute missions that are unique to it. Except for the missions in which it took part during the exercise, it also hovers to provide cover, is used in transportation, and is even capable of landing on ships and operating from them.