This week the IAF carried out a force wide exercise which focused on combat in the northern front. Aside from the IAF’s platforms that trained non-stop, the exercise included a special investigation and mental exercises
IAF Site | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida & Ofri Aharon
A force wide training exercise took place this week with the purpose of strengthening the readiness and ability of the IAF in the northern arena. This exercise was also a test for the new configuration of the Air Division, following an organizational change in the division, as a part of which the training department was divided into a training department and an instruction and doctrine department. “The exercise tested the force from end to end. From the pilot in the cockpit through the ‘Shaldag’ combat soldier on the ground, the UAV operator and the intelligence in headquarters”, explained the Head of the Training Department, Col. Or.
The planning process of an exercise of this magnitude is not simple, and requires rigorous preceding preparation. Many other Military bodies took part in the exercise besides the IAF such as the Navy and the Northern Command. “Many months of strenuous work are required in order to reach a situation in which all of these units can practice their missions under one organized idea”, said Col. Or.
The whole combat aircraft division took part in the exercise. Together, they practiced widespread defense of Israeli aerial space. “We worked in shifts and flew all the time, we practiced use of many kinds of weaponry and communication with control, aerial supervision and the Aerial Operations Division”, explained Maj. Omer from the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron which flies the F-16I.
The missions of the Combat Division are diverse: from protection from penetration of enemy aircraft into Israeli territory, to attack missions such as attack of terror infrastructure in the northern arena. “We execute an array of mission besides attack and defense such as photography, intelligence gathering in real time and analysis of attack results”, added Lt. Yuval from the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron. “We practiced missions that are associated with the beginning of combat, with the goal of massive attacks of as many targets as possible in order to intimidate and determine the campaign. These missions are supposed to be executed under enemy missile threat”, elaborated Maj. Roy from “The One” Squadron.
An additional Division that is essential to the preservation of aerial supremacy is the UAV Division. Throughout the exercise the division dealt with a few of its core missions in one of the most challenging arenas when it comes to unique characteristics, the arena’s topographic and geographic features and the plethora of threats it holds. One of the UAV Division’s missions is identification of enemy SAM Batteries and Rocket launchers. “When a combat jet arrives at its target zone in the air, we are the ones to identify the target and direct him in real-time”, said Lt. Col. Omer the “First UAV” Squadron Commander which flies “Heron” UAV’s.
An Improvement in Investigation
Despite investigation always being a main issue in IAF activity, this time the participants were required to take another step forward in this field. “We established an investigation team that sat in the control cells which included representatives from the “Red” Squadron, Intelligence Directorate and operational leaders”, noted Col. Or.
As stated the “Flying Dragon” Squadron, the IAF “aggressor” squadron which simulates the enemy in training exercises, sent representatives to the investigation teams in the control cells in order to allow optimal inspection of headquarter activity. “In preparation for the exercise we simulated investigation teams”, shared Maj. Ohad Deputy Commander of the “Flying Dragon” Squadron. “Our goal as the ‘red’ force is to create the most accurate reflection of the control cell commanders work so we can know what happened and how to investigate, by means of our real-time inspection”.
Essential to the Mission
While all of the IAF’s platforms are working non-stop, the Aerial Supervision Division must ensure that the missions are carried out in a safe and efficient manner. “The force wide exercise is the best practice the division has. It simulates real time situations, in which all the problems that may arise are practiced”, stated Lt. Nir, a supervisor in the local Air Control Unit in the south. “The ‘red force’ is doing everything in its power to ‘penetrate’ to the country, our goal is to avoid this”.
In order to conduct this exercise in the entire Air Force, they must be fit for it. The success of the exercise is dependent on the Technical Division which works night and day towards its success. Within the IAF exercise, the Technical Division practiced response to ground events, absorption of missiles fire in the Airbases, and communication with headquarters. “The IAF exercise was completed without any unusual events, the Technical Divisions in the ‘Ramon’ Airbase responded exceptionally to every scenario that was practiced. We are all committed to the mission”, shared Lieut. Col. G, Commander of the Maintenance Squadron in the “Ramon” Airbase. In the Munitions Factory in the “Ramon” Airbase, whose productivity under pressure was tested, a special munitions production line was opened. “We were able to complete the mission in less than half of the time we were allotted”, stated Lt. Col. G. “In addition to the operational element, we tested the commanders’ productivity under pressure, how they operate events with multiple injuries and how they emotionally support their soldiers in times of crisis”.
Close to the ground
IAF’s Tactical Transport aircraft also took a major part in the exercise, starting from exercising the division’s main mission, to participating in the special-forces “General Staff Reconnaissance Unit” exercise that was conducted parallel to the force wide exercise. “Throughout the exercise, the C-130 practiced electronic warfare and joint missions”, explained Capt. Nadav, Commander of Operation Unit in the “Yellow Bird Squadron”. “The missions included aerial refueling of CH-53 helicopters that evacuated soldiers from fields that simulated the Lebanon arena, flying special-forces at low levels as well as landings in the field”. The C-130J aircraft mostly practiced aerial supply for forces in deep enemy territory and tactical drops of special-forces units. Alongside the division’s flight missions, the heavy transport squadrons practiced a full switch from routine to emergency scenario which included deployment of the “Dakota” Squadron and the “International” Squadron. The “Sde-Dov” Airbase practiced absorption scenarios and regulating activity without electricity. In addition, they practiced evacuating injured soldiers and entrance to unprotected spaces.