Combat Helicopter Competition

Apache Longbows

Combat Helicopter Competition

A Moment Before the Competition

Combat Helicopter Competition

Returning without a trophy is not within the realm of possibility

Combat Helicopter Competition

An AH-64 Apache Taking Off

What happens in a faceoff of an AH-1 Cobra, AH-64 Apache D and Longbow models? The combat helicopters met for the “Epilogue” competition, which will determine once and for all which is the champion of the formation
Lya Shanel and Mai Efrat | Photography: Yonatan Zalk

Every year comes the moment at which combat helicopter pilots roll up their sleeves and prepare for a particularly harsh battle. When your enemy is a buddy from the Pilot Training Course, who knows all the tricks and can predict your next move, extra effort is required.
This time, all the squadrons of the formation met up at Ramon airbase, for a day of missions and challenges that will determine their stature in the force, at least for the upcoming year. “The competition consists of an extreme outline. Everyone is told, ‘give is your all, here and now'”, explains Captain Ohad, who is responsible for planning the event in the Instruction Division. “That’s the reason it’s called the Epilogue. Like the epilogue that arrives at the end of a book, here also what is important is the final result. No excuses”.

The End Justifies the Means

The weather does not particularly match the threatening atmosphere of the competition, but that doesn’t mean the pilots should expect less work. Target attacks, dealing with missile threats, commando fighters on-board and a real missile shooting, are only part of what is planned for the event. Every move earns a predetermined number of points, including a special bonus round testing knowledge in Israeli history and even penalties for tardiness. In order to balance out the competitive atmosphere, recreational activities including a festive lunch and dinner were included in the schedule.

“They have very limited time to complete the missions. If they work perfectly they will succeed, and if not, it’s important that they understand what is possible and also deal with failure”, explains Captain Ohad. But when we speak with the competitors, it doesn’t seem like returning without a trophy is even within the realm of possibility. “It’s not funny, everyone is preoccupied with it-up to the level of commander of the squadron. This competition has a lot of prestige”.

With so much at stake, it is no wonder that the squadrons take advantage of every tool at their disposal. “Of course there’ve been extortion attempts for information, I’ve been receiving phone calls nonstop”, reveals the organizer of the competition. “That’s how it is when the winning squadron receives eternal fame. At least”.