During Operation “Protective Edge”, the Flight Test Squadron conducted tests of new Armament and Systems prior to operational activation. Some of the tests were in the field of terror tunnels destruction
The people of the Flight Test Squadron from Tel-Nof Airbase have worked around the clock during Operation “Protective Edge”. In their everyday work, they test most of the IAF’s new systems and armament, but during the operation they had to conduct tests in much shorter periods of time.
“We take weeks-long processes and shrink then into one or two days”, tells Captain R’, a test engineer in the squadron’s Guided Munition Section. “During that allotted time we need to understand the system’s shortcomings and how to do it. Afterwards, we conduct an aerial test to see how the system interacts with its matching aircraft”.
The right bomb to the right target
During the operation, the squadron executed dozens of tests dealing with the Transport, Combat, UAV and the Combat Helicopters squadrons. It tested new armament and armament already in use but had different designations during the fighting period.
“At the end of the day, the armament has to hit a certain target: A tunnel, a terrorist or a building and we have to make sure it has the required accuracy”.
Due to the short time available, the testers did not conduct the normal extensive round of tests but instead some more focused ones.
“Usually, each armament goes through very in-depth testing”, explains Captain R’. “We sometimes had to test munition to specific mission to be carried out immediately. We recommended its use for that mission and afterwards we would test it much more broadly”.
“Can’t make the smallest mistake”
A swift test of a system poses difficult dilemmas to the squadron.
“It is very difficult to approve a system based on a brief test”, says Captain A’, a test engineer in the squadron. “That is why we must conduct essential tests with a large observant team that inspects every detail. At each test, two aircraft are in the air: One that drops the armament and another one to monitor the drop”.
In addition to the two aircraft, the squadron has cameras that document the moment of impact from various angles. That is how the accuracy of the armament is checked quickly and the testers convey their recommendations to the Weaponry Department at the IAF headquarter.
What happens when the armament does not work as expected?
“We look at the data and realize exactly what went wrong”, says Captain A’. “When we understand the failure, we pass our conclusions forward. We do not take risks. We are not in liberty to make even the smallest mistake”.