During the “Red-Flag” training exercise in August, the “International” Squadron operating Boeing 707 aircraft broke multiple records. One of them is the farthest direct flight in the history of the IAF. “The record demonstrates the squadron’s range of capabilities”
Talya Yariv | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida & Ofri Aharon
Farther, longer and stronger: The “International” Squadron aircrews, operating the Boeing 707, broke three records, led by the longest flight in IAF history, that was executed as a part of the transportation operation to and from the “Red-Flag” training exercise that took place in August in Nevada, USA.
The transportation operation to the exercise was a complicated mission that posed an opportunity to practice one of the air force’s strategic missions: reaching every point on the globe.
“The records demonstrate the squadron’s abilities”, exclaims Lt. Col. Itamar, the squadron commander. “They show the range of possibilities the squadron can achieve when needed. They make the aircrews better, raise our confidence in our abilities and expand the range of our skills”.
“Breaking a record is a show of capability“
The transportation operation from the USA to Israel at the end of the exercise was carefully planned, as were the stops made on the way. In the first leg of the journey, a malfunction was identified in one of the Boeing 707 aircraft and grounded it for a night for repairs, while the rest of the aircraft continued their journey to Israel.
In order to stick to the original plan, the operation’s commanders decided that at the moment the jet will be flight-ready, it would be refueled with a larger quantity than usual and fly directly to Israel.
The approximately 6,000 mile flight was the record breaker and is the farthest flight ever conducted in the history of the IAF.
“There is no squadron that executed such a long flight with no stopovers”, said Lt. Col. Itamar. “I see the breaking of the record as a demonstration of ability. The IAF knows that today, it has an aircraft that can takeoff in the heart of the United States and land in Israel and vice versa, this is an important achievement. The 707 landed in Nevatim Airbase without much fuel to spare, but safely and efficiently as we expected”.
The Amount of Jets Refueled: Greater than Ever
Another record broken by the “International” Squadron during the “Red-Flag” training exercise was the amount of fuel administered by way of aerial refueling from the Boeing 707s to the F-15s and F-15Is during the transportation operation and the exercise. By the end of the exercise, the squadron reached an unprecedented amount of fuel administered to the fighter jets.
“The amount of fighter jets that passed through the transportation operation, meaning we refueled, was about 50% greater than we ever refueled in any other operation. The amount of fuel that we used during the two weeks of the exercise was equivalent to the amount of fuel the IAF uses every six months”, he explained. “Because of the amount of jet fighters, we enlarged the amount of Boeing 707s. Until today, the largest amounts of Boeing 707s that have crossed the Atlantic Ocean simultaneously were three, but now, it’s five”.
The squadron’s main mission which Aerial Refueling mission, is a complicated and unique mission, in which a “controlled collision” situation is conducted. Throughout the training, dozens of “collisions” of this kind were executed.
“In any other division, a collision between two planes would be considered an ‘accident’. For us – it’s a mission”, explains Lt. Col. Itamar. “Like any other IAF mission we complete, we also emphasize lessons for personal improvement. We checked the operation while flying to the United States and made improvements the following morning. This explains why the transportation operation on the way back to Israel was even more professional”.