For six months, they prepared for this moment and finally it has arrived: UAV Operators Course cadets received the rank of officer and their operators wings at a ceremony held at the Palmachim Air Force Base
The ceremony, led by Major General Ido Nechushtan, commander of the IAF, marked the end of UAV operation training course.
Upon finishing, the new officers will be split up into different squadrons and UAV units and after a number of months of an advanced training course in operational squadrons, they will become full fledged UAV operators.
As part of their advanced training, they will become familiar with the active sector of the Gaza Strip where the UAVs operate extensively and constantly.
“You are joining the system at a very special and significant time”, said Major General Nechushtan. “The countries surrounding us are going through a process of becoming a more dangerous and stronger threat and there is a mask of uncertainty and instability among countries of the region. New chapters are being written every day in the chapters of the Middle East. Palestinian terrorism isn’t over and, as we saw on Wednesday, has not hung its head. Israel needs, more than ever, a stable defense to continue the security of the state.
“The system is one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world and has become 10 times more operationally productive, daily and hourly. You will perform sensitive and complex missions that are at the heart of IAF and IDF activities, intelligence gathering missions, war on terror and additional missions that cannot be described.
“Together with your operator’s wings, you are also receiving the rank of officer. You have a requirement to fulfill command, take responsibility and exhibit yourselves as personal examples at all times. This is the finish line of a difficult, demanding and long track where you were trained in a special role; but this is also the starting point and the beginning of your service.”
Brigadier General Yoav, commander of the Palmachim Air Force Base, said to those completing the course: “Dear graduates, you are joining today a group that works in one of the more fascinating fields of the modern aviation world, a dynamic and developing world that is always gaining more and more new features, most of them unique in the world, most of them without replacement. The system fully utilizes technology and manpower and brings operational productivity with many gains. We expect you to lead, to guide and to command tasks with difficult dilemmas accompanying them.”
The UAV School, marking its tenth year since its establishment, is responsible for training all UAV operators in the IAF.
The school is divided into two tracks: the external pilot track, responsible for UAV take off and landing, and the internal operators track (the course which finished this past Thursday), responsible for in-flight operations such as aerial photo interpretation, directing forces for attack, area searches, escorting troops and more.
Students who come to the internal operators course are cadets who, after finishing at least one year in pilots course, were unable to complete the course. School commanders explained that this year facilitates the students’ learning about the foundations of the flight world, the same knowledge needed for UAV flight.
The course, lasting six months, goes beyond being a professional course. It is also considered the final act of becoming an officer (the cadets go through officers training during the first year of pilots course).
During the course, cadets learn to operate ‘Shoval’ (Heron-1) and ‘Hermes 450’ UAVs. Soon they will also be trained in flying the ‘Eitan,’ the IAF’s new UAVs.