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Female Fighters of the Aerial Defense Formation The Aerial Defense Formation was amongst the first to accept women to its ranks. Today, dozens of female fighters all around the country are serving the formation, prepared to operate the “Iron Dome”, “Arrow”, “Patriot” and “Hawk” systems at any given moment

Itay Itamar

It may be surprising to hear that 13 percent of the fighters in the SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) Formation are in fact female. It is even more surprising to hear that females also consist of a third of all officers in the formation.

“In the very far past there was an attempt to draft female fighters to the Antiaircraft Formation, but it failed”, says Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Arava, Head of the Force Organization in the Aerial Defense Formation.

“After a few years girls started getting drafted to the formation, with several differences in training”.
In the last decade, as he says, the formation already has female fighters with no exceptions: they are conscripted like all the fighters, sign on for three years of service and go through the same course as the boys with no discounts. “They have no special facilitation, both physically and emotionally”, he accentuates. “They compete for commanding roles as equals”.

In fact, the entire Aerial Defense Formation is open for both genders, aside from the “Stinger” battalion that operates a particularly heavy missile, making it impossible to integrate women.

The female officers of the formation took on key roles: four of the Surface-to-air batteries have women commanders. But they don’t stop there. Today, seven women that are Majors are serving in various roles.

“I assume that the day in which there’ll be a first female Deputy Unit Commander isn’t far off”, approximates Lieutenant Colonel Arava.
So what is the explanation for such a high number of female officers in the formation?

“Girls who volunteer to serve for three years in the Force and are not afraid of lengthy service. Female fighters are very motivated and that’s an important fact of becoming an officer. The female fighters of the IAF are of exceptional quality”.