The plethora of threats that characterize the northern theatre, make its aerial space crowded and challenging for every division. The IAF held an Aerial Defense Exercise in the theatre which made the participants face the new battlefield and relevant threats

Nadav Shaham | Translation: Ofri Aharon and Ohad Zeltzer-Zubida

The modern day battlefield increase in players and the variety of threats in every theatre create many challenges and require the IAF to take action accordingly. In order to achieve the predefined goals, led by the protection of Israel’s skies and maintaining aerial superiority, the IAF operates multiple platforms, each on an essential role in routine and emergency.

The IAF Fighter Jet Division trained for aerial protection in the northern theatre and simulated scenarios of penetration of Israel territory by enemy aircraft and missiles, which the IAF is responsible for intercepting.
“We exercised protection of Israel’s skies while dealing with a variety of threats that we could encounter in an operational arena”, explained Lt. Nadav from the “First Fighter” Squadron that operates the F-16C/D “Barak”. Throughout the exercise, the IAF “aggressor” squadron simulated the enemy fighter jets that “penetrated” Israeli airspace. The IAF UAV squadrons also participated in enemy simulation, as a number of UAV simulated “targets” for the fighter jet division. “The main challenge in the exercise was the cooperation between the divisions for the completion of the interception mission”, added Lt. Nadav.

Defense of the Northern Arena

Archive Photo

Behind the Scenes
The Air Traffic Control Division also participated in the exercise: “Synchronizing aircraft and management of the aerial space are missions exclusive to the ATC Division”, stated Lt. Y’ from the Northern ATC Unit. “Our job is to make sure that all of the missions in the northern arena can be executed simultaneously: attack, protection, recon and photography”.

The exercise took place in the Northern ATC Unit as a direct continuation to the Inspection of preparation for aerial protection in the northern theatre that took place a short while before the exercise. An exercise in which all of the division’s servicemen and women took part in, from ATC servicemen in their mandatory service, through servicemen in emergency posting and to ATCs in reserve service, which expressed face that the unit is largely occupied with preparation for the northern theatre.

“These kinds of events may be the main test, but prior to them we went through a comprehensive and widespread process of training and preparation. During that period, we underwent a preparation process that included theoretical knowledge, building combat doctrine, work methods and sharing knowledge”, explained Lt. Y. “Alongside the aerial protection mission that we were tested on, during the inspection we exercised activity with new Aerial Defense systems and in accordance built completely new doctrines and missions”.

Defense of the Northern Arena

Photo by: Hagar Amibar

Friend or Foe
The unit’s familiarity with the processes the IAF is undergoing, its technological development and quick reaction to changes, are important components in the IAFs routine operation in the northern theatre. The northern theatre is significant and evolving and the number of players in the theatre is rising, so it faces the ATC Unit with many challenges. “We trained for a combat situation in the northern arena which held all of the derivatives implied”, emphasized Lt. Yoav, an ATC in the unit. “It is important to understand that in combat, the skies are full of aircraft executing different missions and alongside them we launch missiles in our aircraft’s aerial space. We have to differentiate between friend and foe, synchronize all of the aircraft in the sky and execute all of the IAF’s missions. We have the picture of the sky and we need to allow the protection of our forces and attacking of the enemy simultaneously”.

Throughout the exercise, as in combat, the ATCs dealt with different missions such as receive and gathering of intel, discovery, identification and classification of aircraft and deploying forces accordingly, while considering the different weapons systems and their abilities.

Defense of the Northern Arena

Photo by: Hagar Amibar