In the dead of night and in fickle weather, the IAF continues training and strengthening its abilities. Last week, IAF aircrews from various divisions trained in the dark, did everything they could in order to win and helped build the IAF’s target bank
Tal Giladi & Noa Wollman
As a part of the Night Exercise led by the “One” Squadron, which operates “Sufa” (F-16I) fighter jets, the fighter division trained for nocturnal flight. During the exercise, the aircrews faced the complexity of night flights and the harsh winter weather conditions. “Low clouds covered the city lights that we usually see when approaching our base. This time, we flew in complete darkness”, shared Lt. Naftali, a WSO from the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron.
The IAF’s fighter squadrons perform many missions at night, as their aircraft are heavily equipped with the best systems and arms the IAF has to offer. With the purpose of returning victorious from their sorties, out-fly the other squadrons and overcome the difficult conditions, the aircrews used various night systems. During the exercise, the participants rehearsed many missions such as low height attacks while facing SAM threats and “Blue VS Blue” competitions, in which the squadron members are divided into two groups and compete against each other.
“If the enemy operates at night, so do we”
The fighter squadrons aren’t the only ones who train for night flights, while they trained, the OTC (Operational Training Course) cadets in the “Kings of the Air” reconnaissance squadron also participated in night flights. They were commanded to find the next targets for the fighter pilots and gather further information that could serve the IAF’s target bank. “The darkness doesn’t mean less missions and isn’t an excuse to come back with inferior results”, stated Capt. Daniel, Deputy Commander of the OTC. “The pilots are required to produce quality intelligence and fly smoothly despite the challenges they face”.
The “Kings of the Air” Squadron, which is positioned in Sde-Dov AFB and that operates reconnaissance aircraft, operated around the clock and is required to offer an operational response at any time and in all weather conditions. “If the enemy operates at night, so do we”, said Capt. Daniel. “The night becomes most challenging in operational events that are continuous. We have to deal with the large workload, fatigue and flight conditions, stay sharp and work correctly. This is the reason we train for different missions at night and train in simulators after 48 hours with no sleep”.
Although the commanders of the exercise confess that they do not expect the aircrews to fly after 48 hours without sleep and perform their missions in such an intensive manner, they understand that it is important to train for extreme scenarios. “The ‘Dead Tired’ exercise is three days long and in it, the pilots see their real abilities. They understand how to operate while battling extreme fatigue and learn how to use the aircraft’s systems and each other in order to overcome the difficult circumstances and bring back operational results”.