This week, the IAF’s helicopter squadrons trained together in an exercise which focused on flying under threat in the depth of enemy territory and deepened the cooperation between them

Talya Yariv, Tal Giladi & Eilon Tohar | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida & Ofri Aharon

The IAF’s helicopter squadrons practiced flight in different formations in the depth of enemy territory. As a part of the training exercise, which was planned and executed by the squadrons, the participants practiced, among other things, low altitude flights under missiles fire, refueling in enemy territory, rescue of ejecting pilots and focused on cooperation between the squadrons which operate different helicopters.

“The dynamic in the helicopter division is important and exercises such as this are a golden opportunity to practice correct division of labor in different scenarios – joint formations of attack and transport helicopters”, said Lt. Amit, a pilot in the “Hornet” Squadron, which operates the AH-64 Apache “Longbow” attack helicopter. The “Hornet” Squadron flew beside the “Leaders of the Night” Squadron which flies the “CH-53” transport helicopters. “Usually, when there is a threat in enemy territory, attack helicopters have an important part in the ejecting pilot rescue mission. They create noise, in order to intimidate the enemy and prevent them from arriving at the scene”.

Cooperation between “Apaches” and “CH-53s” isn’t rare in combat, especially in scenarios in which one can cover the other and vice versa. “We practiced transporting infantry forces in enemy territory, with an attack helicopter escorting the transport helicopter “, noted Lt. Amit. “A bi-squadron training exercise in which joint briefings and debriefings are executed, is operationally valuable and gives us deep understanding of combat doctrine amongst air-crew members”.

Helicopter Division in Cooperative Exercise

AH-64 Apache

An opportunity to strengthen the ties between the sister squadrons
The “Rolling Sword” Squadron which operates the “Black-Hawk” helicopter practiced flight in deep enemy territories. “We conducted a cooperative training exercise with our sister ‘The Desert Birds’ squadron which operates the ‘Black-Hawk’ helicopter other combat helicopter squadrons in special formations that included flight in deep enemy territories. One of the main subjects that they practiced was night flight, with the goal of sharpening the abilities required in special missions – with an emphasis on long distance flight”, explained the pilot which led the workshop.

The “Desert Birds” Squadron moved to the Palmachim Airbase six months ago and is currently located adjacent to its sister squadron, the “Rolling Sword” Squadron, as they conduct training exercises together in the division. “Among other things, we flew under threat of SAM batteries and infantry forces, that we could encounter in real scenarios in future wars”, the leader of the workshop from the “Desert Birds” Squadron added. “Because of the distance we fly while flying into deep enemy territories, we need a great amount of fuel which adds weight to the helicopters. It is a complicated sortie and we must conduct multiple operations simultaneously while flying, such as calculating the necessary amount of fuel and ensuring successful results. Because of the scenario’s complexity, we must exercise it and utilize our abilities”.

Helicopter Division in Cooperative Exercise

UH-60 Black Hawk