After the Fighter, Transport and Transport Helicopter Divisions, it is the Combat Helicopter squadrons’ turn to compete. What happens when a “Peten” (Apache) faces a “Saraf” (Apache Longbow), what did they compete for and who is the champion of the division?
Nadav Shaham | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
The annual Combat Helicopter Division competition, named the “Epilogue”, was held last week. In it, the “Hornet” Squadron, which operates “Saraf” (AH-64D “Apache Longbow”) helicopters, faced the “Magic Touch” Squadron, which operates the “Peten” (AH-64 “Apache”) and they competed for the title of division champion.
Three Missions, One Winner
Each squadron sent two helicopters to the competition which were required to perform three central missions planned by a small team led by the AFB Commander. “The missions they trained for in the competition are the most relevant, missions that we will face in combat”, shared Lt. Amit from the “Hornet” Squadron.
The first mission the squadrons faced was attacking targets. The pilots were required to attack a number of targets and received points in accordance with the difficulty of the target. The competitions planners tried to challenge the crews and planted purposeful mistakes in the flight information. “The last part of the mission included an un-planned incident of searching for a target and attacking it”, shared Capt. Guy from the “Magic Touch” Squadron. “The crews have to be very flexible and able to make decisions very quickly in order to succeed in the competition”, added Maj. Eilon, Head of the Helicopter Training Department in the Air Division.
After attacking targets, the crews took off for their second mission – pilot search and rescue. Unlike usual, this time, transport helicopters who are responsible for rescuing the pilot, while the combat helicopters cover them, didn’t participate, so the combat helicopters performed the extraction alone. During the mission, a “Flying Dragon” Aggressor Squadron forces simulated SAM threat and despite the danger, the crews had to perform the extraction. “We had to focus on two missions at a time: extracting the pilot and evade the threats”, added Capt. Guy.
The last and third mission was live cannon fire at two targets in an open space. The pilot had to shoot with maximum accuracy in order to receive the most points.
Desire to Win
The “Epilogue” competition is held once a year and throughout it, the participating teams do everything in order to win. “Our crews arrived at the squadron very early in the morning and held a comprehensive study session on the ground. The briefing was completely targeted to victory”, shared Lt. Amit.
As a result of the desire to win, the competitiveness and relentlessness so affiliated with IAF squadrons, these types of events require careful planning and attention to safety. “The exercise designers were required to perform a comprehensive test of the missions and make sure that the teams wouldn’t be able to enter any dangerous situations”, emphasized Maj. Eilon.
Even when the aircraft landed on the ground and it seemed that the competition was over, the tension was still felt in the air. After all of the missions were completed, a representative from each squadron was send to a mutual debriefing and in order to supervise the tallying of the points. A few hours later, the winner was announced: the “Hornet” Squadron.