The IAF’s combat helicopters are often called on to assist ground forces and provide them with close air support on a wide variety of fronts under ever-changing threats. Aircrews from combat helicopter squadrons practiced a complex exercise that focused on the northern front and its challenges, under the auspices of the enemy-simulating „Flying Dragon” squadron from the Ouvda airbase. „Part of the seminar that we did was building a „theater set” that would imitate the current situation on the northern border as accurately as possible”, explains Major Ronen, who was responsible for the seminar on behalf of the „Flying Dragon” squadron.
„When I construct the scenarios that we will be practicing during the seminar, I have to sit with the Intelligence Branch and with the Operations Department, both of which give me an updated picture of the situation on the front”, explains Major Ronen. „After everything has been planed, I run the event on the ground. Meaning, I operate the helicopters the way the control room would at the moment of truth”.
Aircrews had to deal with missions that included assisting ground forces and providing them with close air support, striking buildings and joint flights with transport-helicopters on search-and-rescue missions for pilots that have abandoned their planes-all under stormy weather conditions and the threat of surface-to-air missiles. Additionally, the „Flying Dragon” squadron made things more difficult by adding many changes to the original missions; the aircrews had to deal with uncertainty and continue their mission.
„The helicopter systems present the pilots with threats that seem real and that they have to dodge”, emphasizes Major Ronen. „Ultimately, I create the training based on what I learned from Headquarters, taking into account existing limitations on my end”.
Author: Shir Cohen