Winter is approaching and the IAF is already preparing: earlier this week, squadrons and bases trained for extreme weather as part of a winter training exercise
Shani Poms Shani Poms
The rain and the cold that recently struck Israel are just a preview of the winter season, which presents the IAF with challenges such as taking off and landing when visibility is poor.
The IAF has already begun preparing for winter through winter training exercise that was held earlier this week: The force’s meteorologists transferred information to the squadrons of the force, forecasting heavy rain to cloudiness and haze. The squadrons then practiced flights in extreme conditions.
During the year, every airbase in the force independently trains for flights in adverse weather conditions, but the training that was held earlier this week included some airbases that operated many aircrafts.
“We dedicated most of the airspace above the country to this exercise”, explains Major Roy, who lead the training exercise on behalf of the Control Unit. “What’s new here is that we are training the air force as one division. Bad weather also leads to friction between the airbases and the squadrons. For example, if Hatzor airbase switches to instrument flights, it can affect the Tel Nof airbase and vice versa, the airbases are intertwined”.
Dealing With Poor Visibility
Winter weather is likely to make it more difficult for an aircrew member sitting in the cockpit to see what is happening around him, which can be dangerous when an aircraft is about to land, because of the possibility of a collision on the ground.
For example, the rainy season brings fog to Ramon airbase during morning time. At moments like these, the pilot, who mostly draws the necessary information from looking outside, needs to switch to what is called an “instrument flight”, or in other words, to obtain data using the instruments in the cockpit and to rely on them.
“The fog limits the visibility and so we often use ‘instrument flights’”, says First Lieutenant Noam, an F-16I weapon systems officer from the Ramon airbase.
“The weather affects us in terms of planning and execution, here in the two control towers at Nevatim airbase”, explains First Lieutenant NoaPeri, an officer at the southern Nevatim airbase tower where the two towers work simultaneously. “We are on high alert and so are the aircrews. We, as air traffic controllers, have to be more alert, to try to obtain updated reports all the time and to be creative, depending on the situation”.