This week, the IAF and Israeli Navy held a mutual training exercise, in which the “Defenders of the West” Squadron and the Navy trained for ASR (Air Sea Rescue). The two forces rehearsed aerial extraction of injured individuals from naval vessels with the “Atalef” (AS-565 Panther) helicopters
On a naval vessel in the heart of the sea lies a severely injured civilian who needs to be urgently evacuated and receive medical care. Time is a critical element to his survival and the cooperation between the “Defenders of the West” Squadron, which operates the “Atalef” (AS-565 Panther), and the Navy will bring the best possible outcome.
This week, the two forces rehearsed this type of scenario as part of a mutual ASR training exercise. “The extraction is performed via aircraft and the injured individual is evacuated to a naval vessel or to shore in accordance with the scenario”, explained Lt. Omer, a pilot from the “Defenders of the West” Squadron. “We arrive when he is already prepared for evacuation and our role is to get him on the helicopter”, emphasized Maj. Erez, a pilot from the squadron. “The crew chief in the cargo hold is responsible for hoisting the wounded from the boat. He lowers the harness from the helicopter and the naval combatants connect the stretcher directly to the helicopter”.
Over the Sea
“Full cooperation between the helicopter pilots, the crew chief and the boat’s crew is obligatory”, stated Maj. Erez. “The big challenge is maintaining the helicopter’s steadiness and height in relation to the boat. At night it becomes even more complex because visibility is low and yet the need for precision rises”.
“Hovering is difficult because there is no real reference point you can direct the helicopter in relation to. This mission is characterized by complex flying alongside synchronization with the combatants”, added Lt. Omer. “This is a mission we need to stay fit for with the Navy”.
When Blue Meets Blue
This training exercise is a part of a series of mutual exercises between the squadron and the Navy, the foundation of their tight and continuous cooperation. As the helicopter’s blue hue suggests, the “Defenders of the West” Squadron is the IAF’s Naval Patrol Squadron. Most of its activity deals with aerial assistance for the navy and its helicopters are equipped with appropriate radars for flying over the sea. In addition, the squadron can take off from and land on Navy Missile Boats and perform various missions such as aerial assistance, transport and extraction. These capabilities allow the squadron to provide the Navy with a comprehensive naval image and by doing so, they operate as the Navy’s eyes while completing operational missions.