In a theater filled with aerial and ground threats and under many mental and physical challenges, the Hatzor AFB squadrons exercised operational activity and survival in an area struck by rockets. “The goal is to sharpen the pilot in the most elementary things and take him close to his best ability”
This past week, the “Scorpion” Squadron and the “First Fighter” Squadron, that operate the “Barak” (F-16C/D) exercised sorties in a SAM struck zone alongside the “Flying Dragon” Squadron, the IAF’s “Red” squadron. While experiencing many threats from surface and air, the aircrews went through elementary trainings alongside complicated and intensive operational exercises. “During the workshop, they focused on studying and practicing. At first, we completed a day in which they learn how to fly in a SAM struck zone and later we exercise it in an operational manner”, explained Maj. Itzik, First Deputy Commander of the “Flying Dragon” Squadron. “You could say that the first day focuses on the way to complete the mission and the second day acquaints the aircrews with the complex and deep dilemmas they are exposed to during flight”.
Many challenging threats
Throughout the workshop, the “Flying Dragon” Squadron operated against the “Blue” force. The “Red” aircraft suddenly appeared in front of the training squadrons or surrounded them during their formation flight at low altitude. They also simulated ground threats and activated the Surface-to-Air missiles batteries that launched small missiles towards the aircraft.
The participants flew at low level operational scenarios and every additional sortie raised the difficulty level, up to the most complex scenario. “The goal of the workshop is to teach the pilots to fly in a zone with many threats, so they will know how to deal with situations of extreme stress during which they would have to make quick and professional decisions”, shared Lt. Col. Roei, Commander of the “Scorpion” Squadron. “The aircrews were unfamiliar with the amount of threats and their placement and sometimes the mission itself was not completely clear and only became clear when in air. This is the best way to teach the best coping mechanism with complex scenarios in real time”.
Many of the participants were required to overcome scenarios for the first time and make momentous decisions while flying. “For some of us this is the first time that we are dealing with an integrated threat”, shared Lt. Eden, a pilot from the “Scorpion” Squadron. “The exercise requires our attention and constant awareness to multiple factors at once”, added Lt. Nadav, a pilot from the “First Fighter” Squadron. “We must know where the formation leader is, the rest of the aircraft are and our targets and where the enemy aircraft are in comparison to us”.
“From the moment we cross the line to ‘enemy territory’, a few seconds after takeoff, we start working at a crazy speed”, shared Lt. Nadav. “In order to successfully conduct the sortie we must prepare ourselves in an elementary manner for the flight, from the moment we wake up we have to think about what we can expect in air”.
“This workshop is a very high level workshop and the safety precautions are at just as high of a level”, detailed Maj. Itzik. “The workshop sharpens the young aircrews and deepens the more experienced pilot’s qualifications”, added Lt. Col. Roy. “The exercise teaches us how to plan the operational sortie and how to surprise the enemy while giving emphasis on the most important target – returning home safely”.