IAF flight platforms are constantly prepared for operational activity. Even during nighttime and complete darkness, aircrew members are on high alert. Last week, aircrews from several Heavy Transport and Combat squadrons participated in a special night training that prepared them for all scenarios
The IAF does not rest. IAF flight platforms are constantly prepared for operational activity. "A significant amount of the IAF's most important missions and operations happens during the night", explains Lt. N, an aircrew member from squadron 119 ("The Bat") operating "Sufa" (F-16I). "Therefore, we must be prepared for all scenarios".
In order to make aircrew members more experienced with nighttime activity, they undergo special night training where they practice several operational scenarios in the dark. This time, heavy transport and combat squadrons participated. The squadron in charge of planning and selecting a common motive for every exercise was Squadron 119 who led the training exercise and the topic of the training was low altitude attacks against SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) batteries.
The aircrew members flew close to the ground, a more challenging flight than routine sorties, and faced threatening Aerial Defense systems. "This is a unique training process and it is important to practice it for special operations or times of war", explains Lt. N.
Attacking of designated targets in a Missiles threatened area and various fueling missions was also practiced during the training exercise. Additionally, depending on their needs, the squadrons had training areas of their own. "Inflatable SAM batteries were set up as a way to simulate hostile threats and practice complex scenarios", elaborates Lt. N.
Squadron 140 ("Golden Eagle") operating "Adir" (F-35I) also participated in the night training exercise. "As opposed to the training process of a single squadron, many resources are allocated to the exercise so that many squadrons can use them", describes Maj. A, Deputy Commander of squadron 140. "The "Adir" aircraft is very difficult to train. Therefore, special training compounds are built for that purpose. The challenging compounds include aerial and ground enemy simulation. Part of the exercise's aircraft function as enemy aircraft to challenge the squadron's abilities. We have an opportunity to practice our capabilities and the mission during this quality exercise".
"There is a significant difference between night and day aerial refueling for the battle squadrons", explains Lt. A, Flight Engineer and night training leader from squadron 120 ("Desert Giants") operating "Reem"(Boeing 707). "It takes the aircraft longer to approach the tankers and to start the fueling process during the night, and the images they see are different", continues Lt. A. "We adapt ourselves to the combat squadrons and use different lighting that helps the aircrews see clearly during their flight. Night sorties take place during unordinary times of the day to best prepare the teams".
"One of the goals of squadron 120 for the training exercise is improving the refueling level and to refuel according to operational needs", emphasizes Lt. A. The current operational needs is the revision of protocol regarding fighter jet refueling. "It was issued following two events where fighter jets approached the Boeing 707 too quickly", she explains. "Before the order was issued, there was no clarification regarding the speed in which aircraft are allowed to approach the refueling plane". The night training exercise is a great opportunity to assimilate the new protocols in the combat squadrons.
The participants from squadron 120 need to synchronize between the squadrons and aircraft that need refueling, the required time for each fueling session, and the amount of fuel provided. "We are used as a flying gas station", points out Lt. A. "We need to provide fuel for the combat squadrons so that they could keep their training". Lt. N concludes: "The night training exercise allows us to practice our capabilities, using a diverse amount of quality training exercises".