?What will the next dogfight look like ?What will the next dogfight look like

The first dogfights in the age of jets took place 64 years ago The first jets dogfight took place 64 years ago. Over the years that have passed since, it seems like the jets have all but disappeared. Nonetheless, the IAF continues to prepare for the next possible threat

Michal Khayut | Translation: Liran Ackerman

The first dogfights in the age of jets took place 64 years ago during the Korean War and were over when two Korean MiG-15s were shot down by American aircraft. Nearly six decades have since passed and as it seems, the next dogfight will not take place in the skies above Israel, because instead of fighting against other air forces that operate fighter jets, the IAF is now dealing with terrorist organizations. Nonetheless, the IAF continues to prepare for future dogfights and the question that arises is: what will the next Israeli dogfight look like?

Not So Close
In the past, dogfights took place when there was a short distance between the participating fighter jets, and some pilots even speak of cases in which they saw the enemy pilot’s ears when they closed in on him for interception. In the past, in order to shoot down an enemy fighter jet one had to get close to the aircraft to a distance of between dozens or hundreds of meters”, explains Lt. Colonel Guy, Chief of Air Operations in the “First Jet” Squadron which operates the “Barak” fighter jets (F-16C/D). “With the technological advancements and the use of air-to-air missiles and the capability of launching a missile towards an aircraft beyond the visual range, the battlefield is expanding.”

“We have developed a heat-guided missile that can take down an airplane and we have developed countermeasures that are supposed to absorb the missile attack and so forth”, explains Lt. Colonel Guy. “In the past we needed to fly close to the aircraft in order to take it down and today the distance between us and the enemy aircraft is getting farther, although it is possible that the countermeasures will cause us to fly closer again. The bottom line is that no one has come up with a way to counter the simple missiles fired from cannon.”

Not Taking Risks
The terrorist organizations the IAF fights today do not have aerial capabilities and operate by launching missiles towards Israeli territory. “We cannot rule out any scenario”, stresses Lt. Colonel Guy. “ISIS is a good example: it took over a Syrian air base that had fighter jets in it and it is not far-fetched that somebody from ISIS with flight experience or even with good gaming capabilities would try to take a fighter jet and use it against us.”

Although such events seem unrealistic and in spite of the advances the combat squadrons have achieved in striking terror targets, parts of the regular training has been kept. “We cannot take any risks in the Israeli airspace” says Lt. Col. Guy. “We cannot allow the risk of a launch of missiles or enemy fighter jets trying to enter the Israeli airspace, which is why we still practice dogfights.”