The IAF is the first air force to have converted a business jet, the “Gulfstream G-500”, into a mission jet, which possesses unique intelligence gathering and aerial control capabilities
Elegant on the outside, operational on the inside: 10 years ago, a new era has begun in the world of aerial intelligence and control in the IAF, when the first “Nachshon” (Gulfstream G-500) jet joined the IAF as a new platform. The Gulfstream carries out intelligence gathering, radar and control missions, enabling the IAF to reach great distances in extremely short time.
A ceremony marking a decade since the arrival of the jet was held last weekend in the presence of Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, the incoming IAF Chief of Staff, and “Gulfstream” representatives. “The passing decade characterized by progress, operational relevance and a strong desire to succeed and make an impact with the jet and its operators”, says Brig. Gen. Lihu Hacohen, Commander of Nevatim Airbase, to the guests. “The soldiers of the squadron take off with the most advanced systems in the world and perform their missions in the face of many threats”.
“The 2015 Gulfstream is a central supporting pillar of IAF’s capabilities, from routine border defense missions to worldwide operations”, said Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman. “The work is done with modesty combined with admirable professionalism and accuracy”.
From the Oldest to the Newest
The IAF is the first air force to have converted a business jet into a mission jet. “No other active IAF aircraft can match the high level of quality, speed and innovation of the Gulfstream”, says Colonel Y, who commanded the “Gulfstream” squadron10 years ago.
The squadron, which was renamed “the Gulfstream squadron” in 2002, was founded in 1971 as a “Dakota” squadron and operated the “Dakota” plane until 2000. In 1983, the squadron absorbed the first IAI “Arava” planes, which remained in operational service until the squadron’s closure in 2004. “The arrival of the ‘Gulfstream’ led to big changes in the squadron”, says Colonel Y. “Until 2004, we operated the ‘Arava’ plane – the oldest plane in the IAF at the time and suddenly we received the newest, most modern plane in the force”.
Present in Every Significant Event
The “Nachshon” is the comprehensive name for two platforms installed on business jets that were bought from the US government and “Gulfstream” company – “Nachshon Shavit” (Gulfstream G-500) and “Nachshon Eitam” (Gulfstream G-550).
The G-500, the first Gulfstream to arrive in Israel, is used for gathering SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) which includes Electronic intelligence and communications intelligence. The G-550, which landed in Israel in September 2006, is used for Aerial Control and provides protection for planes operating far from Israel deep inside enemy territory. Although the planes are similar in appearance, their missions and areas of activity are highly different.
Intelligence gathering and aerial control are needed not only during fighting, but also in the everyday routine and during exercises. “The ‘Gulfstream’ jets are there in every significant event of the IAF”, says Lt. Col. Ron, the current commander of the “Nachshon” squadron. “The planes take part in strategic and operational missions, flights abroad and humanitarian missions, all thanks to the fact that they are independent business jets which can land and take off in difficult conditions”.
The First to Arrive In Nepal
In last April, it was the “Gulfstream” jet that flew aid mission to Katmandu in Nepal to estimate the required assistance to be sent and guide the forces in Israel accordingly. “The mission was done professionally from planning to execution”, determines Lt. Col. Ron. “The destination was far away and the flight route was complex, but thanks to the plane’s excellent capabilities and the professionalism of our people – we succeeded”.