They complete the Israeli Naval Officers Course, are trained as auxiliary air crew members and perform their mission deep in the sea and in the sky: meet the Naval Patrol Officers that assist the IAF and Navy to operate in tight cooperation
The “Atalef” (Panther) maritime helicopter lands on a naval vessel, another mission accomplished thanks to cooperation between the “Defenders of the West” Squadron and the Israeli Navy. This routine mutual activity might seem simple to a bystander, but it poses a number of challenges for both sides. “These are two different organizations with different languages and different work methods”, stated Lt. Gil, who is currently training to become a Naval Patrol Officer in the “Defenders of the West” Squadron. He also emphasized the importance of having an officer responsible for the connection between the IAF and the Navy: “In the squadron, in training exercises, in operations and in preliminary planning – that’s the Naval Patrol Officer’s duty”.
Mutual Operational Image
The importance of the Naval Patrol Officers is as large as the responsibility that rests on their shoulders. According to Lt. Gil, the experience and situational awareness gained in Naval Officers Course is irreplaceable. “When I’m on the helicopter, I see the full image from an aerial point of view and while communicating with the boat, we create a mutual operational image”.
The Naval Patrol Officer’s job doesn’t end when they touch the ground. “My work focuses on the tactical aspect of preparation”, he shared. “I work in cooperation with the squadron when dealing with the helicopter’s position while considering the vessel’s landing pad and communications, observation and radar systems. I also focus on gaining a deep understanding of the operational field and am responsible for training the landing pad team and for various types of equipment and procedures”.
Sea & Sky
The Naval Patrol Officers’ vast set of responsibilities require them to undergo a long and meticulous training period. “I completed the Naval Officers Course and then participated in a number of different courses during which I was designated to become a Naval Patrol Officer in the IAF”, Lt. Gil explained. “During the training, there are three weeks in which we stay in the squadron and learn about the squadron’s missions and the helicopter’s systems, while maintaining a continuous conversation with the air crew members and other Naval Patrol Officers in the squadron”.
Lt. Gil added that the transition between the Navy and IAF is quite challenging: “I connect the two forces, whose cooperation is necessary and productive and we’re here in order to make sure it’s performed in the best way possible”.