The Aerial Defense Formation is a big and important part of the modern disposition. Brigadier General Shachar Shochat, commander of the formation explains how to operate around the clock, how to constantly improve our abilities and enhances the fact that regardless of our system’s sophisticated abilities, the significance of human observation is to important for us to give up on
Shir Aharon Bram
One of the most advanced and progressing formations in the IDF, as of today, is the Aerial Defense Formation. Whether dealing with active anti-missile and rocket defense batteries or anti-aircraft and aerial terror defense systems, the formation is on top of the technological standards. In past years, the responsibility of the formation has grown larger and the fighters have had to deal with additional threats that danger the Israeli sky: Ballistic missiles, UAVs and short/long distance rockets.
The Aerial Defense Formation advances everyday and adapts to the changing threats; as the commander of the formation says, every military needs to have a stable and flexible defense formation.
“Defense is part of the entire defense effort that Israel puts into the combat issues. Defense isn’t the only parameter in the equation and stands alongside other capabilities such as attack towards specific threats or emergencies in every possible area or several areas at once,” explains Brigadier General Shochat. “In addition, we’re always ready for the “battle in the midst of a battle” like the occasional intensifications we face. There is a need for high level alertness, since escalations can breakout without warning and so our motto is 24/7 availability and constant alertness”.
The Aerial Defense formation stood out during operation “Pillar of Defense” where 400 different rockets were intercepted by “Iron Dome” systems. Soldiers of the various batteries did the impossible and made a battery operational in only 24 hours. Soldiers of the Aerial Defense Formation constantly improve the operational systems of the force in order to enlarge the ability range and threats they can overcome, with the help of “Magen” management (a branch responsible for developing systems operated by the Aerial Defense Formation), “Choma” management and other industries.
“For over a decade, the operational ‘Arrow’ system is one of the most advanced systems in the world for intercepting long distance missiles and has the ability to face all relevant threats”, states Brigadier General Shochat. These days, the Iron Dome system is being upgraded to “Block2”- a change that will significantly change its functioning abilities. The “Patriot” system is also being upgraded this time, permanently. Over the next few years, the “Magic Wand” will begin operating and will complete the multi-layered vision of the Aerial Defense Formation: the “Iron Dome” will operate against short distance threats, the “Magic Wand” against medium distance threats and the “Arrow” missiles will operate against long distance threats. In the future, “Arrow 3” will join the arsenal and will have the ability to intercept ballistic missiles at very high altitude.
The “operating man” Advantage
According to Brigadier General Shochat, the most progressing interception systems in the world are operated by humans and are not automatic since there are most valuable when maneuvered by human beings. “Its easy to see the advantage of the operators over the automatic system in every operational mission. There have been many times when the machine had a hard time dealing with certain situations where only a person’s proper consideration and quick decision making would be of assistance”, said Brigadier General Shochat. “The right combination of a trained person alongside the technical abilities of the system creates the best defense although it doesn’t guarantee perfection. The term ‘Hermetic Defense’ doesn’t exist”. Brigadier General Shochat also says that the Home Front command has to prepare for any scenarios.
“We are prepared to face any threat. Its important to remember that the classic anti aircraft activity is still very active as are the UAVs. Our soldiers are prepared and ready to go. Recently we have conducted an international exercise and we keep on training in order to be ready for whatever comes our way”, concludes Brigadier General Shochat.