Dozens of aircrafts are flying in the skies above the Gaza Strip at this moment and the soldiers of the Southern Regional Control Unit managing every flight conducted as part of Operation “Protective Edge”. They communicate with the aircrews, coordinate targets with them and liaise with different aircrafts flying above the Gaza Strip
Dozens of flights that are being conducted in the skies just above the Gaza Strip at this time are being observed in the aerial picture systems of the Southern Regional Control unit in Mitzpe Ramon.
The soldiers of the unit accompany every flight: from striking rocket launchers and terrorist infrastructure to reconnaissance missions.
“The Southern Control Unit is responsible for managing and synchronizing the activities in the airspace above the Gaza Strip during Operation “Protective Edge” in close cooperation with all the units in the division”, explains Major S’, Division Commander of the Regional Control Unit. “The unit prepared for this operation over a long period of time. We have the mentality of combat soldiers: we are prepared and ready and connected to the mission and the skills”.
“Zero tolerance for big mistakes”
One of the missions for which the soldiers of the unit are responsible is the coordination between the many aircrafts within such a small space, with each aircraft performing a different mission and operating with a flight pattern.
“We have to contain all of the IAF’s missions within this space”, says Lieutenant Colonel Eran, Commander of the Southern Control Unit. “The Regional Control Unit manages and synchronizes the space under regional observation. We are in contact with different air traffic controllers, with each one of them doing something a different job, the Regional Control Unit needs to do all these missions”.
The workload presents the control units with quite a few dilemmas. “Whether it’s obeying the rules and keeping your speech short and concise, or for example, providing the aircrews with an accurate picture”, says Lieutenant Colonel Eran. “Because there are dozens of aircrafts and everyone is squeezed within a small area, the basics of the job need to be strong. There is zero tolerance for big mistakes”.
Currently, the whole operation is being managed from the air, but if the decision is made to conduct a ground invasion, this affects the Southern Regional Control Unit as well.
In such a situation, the Southern Regional Control Unit will have to synchronize between airstrike and reconnaissance missions and other missions.
“If a ground maneuver is ordered, our operations will expand. There will be rescue missions and more positions for airstrikes and reconnaissance”, says Major S’.
“During a ground maneuver, we will have to synchronize with small, tac
ical UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) such as the “sky Rider” and the transport and combat helicopters”, adds Lieutenant Colonel Eran. “This is in addition to the continuation of airstrikes and this is a very big challenge”.