New Special Forces Wing in the IAF
(Source: Israeli Air Force; issued July 12, 2020)
The Israeli Air Force’s new 7th Wing is a Special Forces unit that integrates the service’s Search and Rescue Unit 669, which operates Black Hawk helicopters fitted with an extendable probe for in-flight refueling. (IAF photo)

Today (Sunday), the IAF marked the opening of the new Special Forces Wing. The new wing includes “Shaldag”, Unit 669, and the Frontal Landing Unit which will later be joined by an intelligence unit and a training school for Special Air Force combat troops

Today (Sunday), the opening ceremony for the 7th Wing - the Special Forces Wing, was held at Palmachim AFB. The new wing is composed of the IAF's Special Forces: Airborne Combat, Search and Rescue Unit 669,"Shaldag", and the Frontal Landing Unit. Additionally, a dedicated Intelligence unit and a joint school for Special Forces will be part of the new wing. The new wing enhances the IAF's capabilities and is a complementary and unique component to its activity, by allowing for more operational freedom and diversity in special missions in routine and emergency.

"We are in times of regional change - with a global pandemic and a battlefield becoming more complex every day. Our commanders understand that these changes force us to adapt to the challenges that the future holds", said Commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, during the opening ceremony.

The Height of a Process

In the early '90s after the Gulf War, a decision was made to create an Aerial Special Forces Command. The command managed "Shaldag" and was responsible for Unit 669 and later for the Frontal Landing Unit as well.

The 7th Wing that opened today at Palmachim AFB, was created due to operational needs and the changing and increasing threats on different fronts, as part of a broader process to strengthen and sharpen the special unit's operational effectiveness. There is great operational significance to a body that will unify the IAF's Special Forces and reinforce the IAF's capabilities by synchronizing their activity.

The base of the plan - improving the operational effectiveness of the units by adapting tactics and weapons systems, and broadening cooperation in the IAF, IDF, and the defense system as a whole. "A systemic organization of Special Forces, which focuses on unique operational response to the IAF's challenges, is a dream for the IDF's Special Forces personnel and in general", said Commander of the Wing, Col. E. "The time has come, and also in the IAF, our special forces are at the core".

The IAF aspires for constant renewal and improvement. The timing of the wing's opening, during a new multi-year program, creates an opportunity to enable profound changes and to deal with various challenges in a constantly changing reality. "After extensive work, at the base of which is an operational vision - there is an enhanced capability that makes our special forces more effective in combat, more influential in building our Aerial Superiority and a more significant part of every process within the IAF", described Maj. Gen. Norkin.

"It Is Now Our Turn to Lead the Way"

The organizational change allowed for higher quality cooperation between the Special Forces, and an opportunity for broader leaning that will double their strength. Members of the operational units will be involved in positions at the operational and training headquarters and fulfill the purpose of the wing during routine and emergency situations.

"We are combining the capabilities of "Shaldag" with Unit 669 and the Frontal Landing Unit, adding the assets of our Materiel Directorate, combining their operational and training departments, changing and improving the building process, upgrading our intelligence capabilities - and making the IAF a better Air Force", concluded Maj Gen. Norkin. "Today, we are embarking upon the next chapter in the history of the Aerial Special Forces - we were carried on the shoulders of those who dared before us, and it is now our turn to lead the way".

"As we progress and the environment becomes more complex, the need to adapt and shift our focus becomes more pronounced. To allow that change and create a gap for the coming decade with our environment, our enemy, and our operational challenges, we broke paradigms, dared to think, ask and improve - we recreated the IAF special forces.

“The 7th Wing, home of the Aerial Special Forces, is a unique wing in the IAF. Its purpose is to address the core challenges of the Air Force and to produce creative and relevant operational solutions, with the strong belief in our Aerial superiority, and its significance to the security of our nation", concluded Col. E.

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