The “Noble Dina” is an important exercise in which the naval forces of the U.S, Greece and Israel participate together. The Navy’s missile ships were joined by a naval patrol squadron, in an exercise that forced the air crew to deal with turbulent seas
Michal Khayut | Photography: Yonatan Zalk and the Defenders of the West Squadron
Israeli, Greek and American military forces arrived at the Crete Islands to begin a joint exercise by the name of “Nobel Dina”. The exercise included naval forces of the three countries, alongside pilots of the IAF from the “Defenders of the South” squadron: A “Panther” naval patrol helicopter drifted above the missile ships, expanding the image seen by the crews on the ships and serving as an extra pair of eyes.
The way to Crete was not particularly simple: Air crew members seized the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Navy’s point of view, as they dealt with the soaring waves and the afflictions that accompany them during an ongoing trip. “It was interesting to experience it from their side”, explains Lieutenant Oren from the “Defenders of the West” squadron. “As pilots, we’re not used to the experience of being inside a ship. The tide was high, we were stuck inside our room and some people weren’t feeling well. But after we survived those two days, we arrived at Crete and began the exercise”.
After the long, turbulent journey, the crews arrived at the large island, which is filled with olive orchards and sandy beaches, and began the exercise. The forces practiced various outlines, in which “Panther” helicopters took off above the ships and notified them about the surrounding happenings. “Besides the squadrons, there are many opportunities to meet people from the foreign forces”, smiles Lieutenant Oren. “We exchanged many gifts with the Americans and Greeks, from tags to belt buckles”.
After the ending of the first stage of the “Noble Dina”, the crews sailed back to Israel, and carried out the last part of the exercise. At this stage, the IAF helicopter landed on the back of a Greek ship. “It’s challenging. You have to know how to integrate the familiar and the unknown”, explains Lieutenant Oren. “So you ask what’s different and learn. Our landing pads, for example, are relatively small, and it’s more difficult compared to other ships on which there is more space. On the other hand, you have to do everything with certain constraints and communicate in English”.
Beyond the cooperation with Greece and the U.S, all parties practiced the connection between sea and sky. “In the eyes of the naval helicopter pilots from the foreign forces we’re quite strange, since we’re a part of the IAF and they belong to their countries’ navy”, explains Lieutenant Oren. “There are a lot of things we do differently than other militaries in the world. Throughout the exercise we also talked about different styles of flight, and no doubt it expands the mind”.