From new arms to fighter jet gas tanks: in order to befit the IAF’s combat helicopters to the modern military theatre and maintain their relevance in maneuvering combat, the division is expected to undergo multiple changes. “The weapons will provide the division with versatility in attacking different targets”
The IAF’s Combat Helicopter Division is expected to undergo an extensive change: the helicopters will soon undergo extensive improvements, led by the integration of new armament which will be integrated first in the “Hornet” Squadron, which operates “Saraf” (AH-64D Apache Longbow) Helicopters and some will also be integrated in the “Magic Touch” Squadron, which operates “Peten” (AH-64 Apache) Helicopters. “The combat helicopter division is equipping itself with new arms in order to maintain its relevance in the changing battlefield”, explained Maj. Dror from the Material Directorate. “It will integrate accurate and long range munitions that will provide it with versatility in attacking different targets”.
Among the munitions that the division will receive are accurate rockets. “The rockets are based on rocket engines combined with a laser based guiding system which makes them like guided missiles. This weapon can be installed on the helicopters in large amounts while every helicopter can carry about 70 rockets”, shared Maj. Michael, Commander of the Ramon AFB Munitions Department.
Farther and More Accurate
With the improvements, the helicopter crew will be able to destroy targets from a relatively far distance, while staying out of the enemy’s range of fire. This will be possible thanks to the combination of the accurate arms and the helicopters’ advanced observation system. In addition, the large variety of arms will provide the aircrews with more flexibility when planning an attack. Upon receiving a certain operational command, they will be able to fit the arms to the mission, while taking the arms-fuel ratio into consideration. “If there is a specific mission somewhere far away, it is possible to install more fuel tanks and less munitions and vice versa”, explained Maj. Dror.
As part of the improvements, the currently used fuel tanks will be replaced by the tanks from the “Ayit” (Skyhawk) fighter jet. The jet’s tanks are large and will allow the helicopter to travel longer distances than before.
White and Blue Products
The operational need for Israeli electro-optical arms for the Apache Division has been relevant since the 1990’s, but grew in importance during operation “Protective Edge”, when the IAF needed large amounts of arms in a short time, In order to install the arms in the helicopters, IAF personnel, alongside the “Rafael” company were required to develop a new Israeli weapons system which operates simultaneously with the existing systems. “We managed to overcome this challenge only about four years ago”, said Senior Warrant Officer Ilan Spielberg, Development Officer of the “Saraf” electro-optical weapons system.