“We only have a small window of opportunity to find the plane and threaten it”.
They threaten the planes using fireworks, imitation missiles and other pyrotechnics They are considered the biggest threat to the aircrew members, as they threaten them from the ground using pyrotechnics. Meet the ground simulation officers from the “Flying Dragon” squadron, who prepare the aircrews for flights in danger zones
It is late at night and the visibility is poor. The CH-53 helicopters send a warning about a threat and the pilot surveys the territory to find it, but is unsuccessful in pointing out its location in the pitch-black darkness. The city in which this scene takes place is not Beirut and the ones shooting missiles aren’t militants from a terrorist organization, but enemy-simulating officers on the ground that come from “Flying Dragon” squadron. Their job is to “dress up” like the enemy and in so doing, train the pilots who are training against them.
The enemy-simulating offices on the ground operate under the auspices of the Integrated Division of the “Flying Dragon” squadron, which is located at the Ouvda airbase. While the job of the “red” aircrews is to simulate the enemy in the air and surprise the teams that are training against them, the enemy-simulating officers have to imitate the enemy on the ground.
“Before each operation, the commander explains to us the layout and which enemy simulation he wants”, explains First Lieutenant Dana, an enemy-simulation officer. “They don’t know where we hide and we don’t always know where exactly they’ll come from. We only have a small window of opportunity to find the plane and threaten it”.
While the aircrews train for flights in enemy territory, enemy-simulating officers emerge from the darkness and threaten the planes, using fireworks, imitation missiles and other pyrotechnics. The simulated threat shows up in the aircraft systems as if it were a real threat during a military operation in enemy territory. The goal of enemy-simulating officer is to “shot down” the planes or helicopters and the goal of the pilot is to test the simulation and to respond to it with a variety of methods.
After the training, the pilots and enemy-simulating officers are debriefed together and examine whether it was possible to respond more effectively to the enemy.The enemy-simulating officers on the ground to not only simulate the enemy: during one of their missions they also simulate a pilot who has abandoned his plane and needs to be rescued from a certain place. “I try to direct the helicopter to the spot where I am and make it as difficult for him as I can”, adds First Lieutenant Dana. “Sometimes I tell him that the area is under threat and that he should dispatch reinforcements”.
The goal of the pilots is to find the enemy-simulating officers while hiding from the other threats that are directed at them and to get them home safe and sound.
“This is a special job and we are the only ones in the IAF who do it. Pilots who train against us for the first time are stunned and we get good feedback”, explains First Lieutenant Dana, whose big brother, Captain M’, serves as a pilot in the “Flying Dragon” squadron. In other words, there are missions in which First Lieutenant Dana shoots at Israeli pilots from the ground and her brother’s job is to attack them from the air.
“I hear him all the time on the two-way radio. He passes above me all the time and see what I do and we have a common language at home”, she adds. “During one of the training sessions, we trained the “red” pilots against the ground enemy and I downed his plane. To this day, he denies it and refuses to recognize it”.