Photo by: Yissachar Ruas
The annual combat formation competition posed all IAF combat squadrons with challenging missions, as the pilots tried to be as accurate as possible, to stick to their timetables, and to guard against threats
Don’t get hit, hit the target: that was the order given to the air crew members of the “One” Squadron with regards to the combat formation competition held last week. With short notice, the air crew members donned their G-suits, boarded their F-16I fighter jets and took off for the mission. The rest of the IAF combat squadrons woke up to a similar morning, all of them attempting to achieve the best performance.
F-15Is took off from Hatzerim Airbase not long after the F-16 C/Ds successfully completed their sortie from Hatzor Airbase, attacking the same targets that the F-15 B/Cs had dealt with before. “Each and every move is counted and scored. The air crew members must avoid being downed by ground-to-air missiles or enemy simulating “red” jets, they must operate in a punctual manner and obviously hit the target”, says Lieutenant P from the “One” squadron, who led the training, shortly before takeoff. “The competition creates motivation among the air crew members and forces each squadron to the limit”.
IAF combat squadrons look forward to the competition, each one driven by the will to prove their superiority. All the pilots and weapon system operators spent the days prior to the competition practicing various scenarios they are familiar with from previous events. “We practiced really hard in order to be as ready as possible”, said Lieutenant P. “these scenarios are practiced every year and considered challenging and rather enjoyable, yet pretty outdated”.
In spite of the meticulous preparation, the participants were still surprised by this year’s format of the competition. Unlike previous years, this competition revolved around warfare in the Northern arena. “We found out that the competition is going to be different from past years only in the evening before. This time it focused on the Northern arena, its specific characters and threats, as part of the aspiration to maintain readiness in the region”, he said. “The participants had to stay attentive while attacking the targets”.
Aerial and Ground Threats
The air crew members faces both aerial and ground threats: ground-to-air missile batteries and shoulder missiles on the one hand, and “red” enemy jets, simulated by the “Flying Dragon” Squadron, on the other hand. The organizers also had to bridge the differences between the different platforms in order to create fair competition.
“We focused on the squadrons’ common aspects, and prevented them from gaining unfair head starts”. The results of the competition will be published during the next few weeks, after analysis of the data by IAF’s operational headquarter.