In a first-of-its-kind workshop that was held last week, IAF formations joined together to practice rescuing an ejected pilot (REP)
Shachar Zorani | Translation: Eden Sharon
With the understanding that cooperation leads to better results, all IAF squadrons joined last week for a comprehensive workshop dealing with rescuing pilots who used their ejection-seat in deep in enemy area.
The unique workshop that was held last week combined the different platforms in the IAF, from combat and transport planes to UAVs and helicopters.
“This is a very important exercise because this scenario might actually take place”, said Captain Jehonathan, an air crew member from the F-16 “Valley” squadron. “Flying through the different areas can be dangerous due to various threats and this is a mission the IAF has to prepare for”.
A pilot ejects himself out of a jet in order to save his life when his plane is about to crash. “It can happen due to anti-aircraft missiles, a technical malfunction or a human error”, detailed Captain Jehonathan.
So far, REP was only practiced by helicopters crews because they are the ones in charge of SAR (Search and Rescue) missions.
Fighter-jets and UAV are a relevant part of the rescue. These platforms have a crucial effect on the rescue execution, both in the aspect of locating the pilot and providing the combat helicopters and the pilot with covering fire.
Dealing with Individuals
As opposed to helicopters, which can hover in the air at one spot, fighter jets have more trouble referring to a single person and provide him with relevant assistant.
“The combat jets have a difficult task”, determines Lieutenant Shachaf, An aircrew member in the F-16 “Valley” squadron and the leader of the combat formation in the exercise. “We must defend the pilot on the ground and simultaneously attack to avoid getting hit”.
The large number of participants, both the controllers on the ground and platforms operators in the air, sets another challenge.
“The larger number of aircraft in the drill, the more complex it gets. We must pay a special attention to communication and operate without disturbing any of the other aircraft”, explained Captain Idan from the “Rolling Sword” squadron. “In the preliminary debriefing we provide the participants with specific instructions for action in order to deal with that challenge”, added Captain Shachaf.