F-16 and F-16I squadrons joined for a massive training exercise aimed at the highest priority of the IAF: preserving aerial superiority. Among the threats were UAVs and electronic warfare
Eilon Tohar | Translation: Liran Ackerman
The top priority of the IAF is preserving IAF’s air superiority. For that reason, IAF squadrons practice defending Israeli airspace multiple times a year. During the flight training last month, F-16A/B and F-16I squadrons practiced different missions, including air-to-air threats in different arenas.
“Our goal in such training is preserving the situation of no penetration into Israeli air space”, explained Major Nadav, Deputy Commander of “The Bat” Squadron, who led the training. “The main challenge is dealing with a number of threats at the same time”.
The southern air traffic control unit has also taken part in the training. The controllers were divided into groups – “Blue” controllers and “Red” (enemy) controllers, in order to simulate the situation of real operational activity.
The preliminary briefing did not reveal all the details regarding the training, in order to practice unpredictable situations the aircrew members may come across during war.
“The aircrew members and controllers received a relatively limited amount of intelligence information. They knew which jets they were going to fight and were also informed with the weapon systems type and missions they would face”, said Lieutenant Nir from the F-16I “Bat” squadron. “What they did not know is that they would encounter a higher number of enemy jets than usual”.
Encountering a surprising number of enemy jet-fighters makes the scenario even more challenging.
“Each one of the jets attacked from a different direction, making the aircrew members in the cockpit feel like there are even more planes to fight”, described Lieutenant Nir. “The level of difficulty increased by the days and the ‘Red’ fighters fought back more aggressively”.
The two F16-I squadrons have recently welcomed new aircrew members who graduate the operational qualification stage, making this exercise their first one in the squadrons.
“At the bottom line, our mission is to protect the Israeli airspace”, added Lieutenant Nir. “In any war or emergency that may unfold, the IAF will almost always be the first to respond, strike or penetrate deep into enemy areas in order to protect Israel from any threat”.