The C-130 “Hercules” and the CH-35 “Sea Stallions” took part in a training exercise which simulated complicated events in the middle of the sea. In cooperation with the Israeli Navy, the IAF trained for intercepting ships and extracting combatants by means of new combat doctrine

Talya Yariv | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

During the past years, the need for aerial response when dealing with scenarios which take place far out at sea has been rising, these situations include operating when facing armed vessels and extracting wounded soldiers from the water. The proof of this need was realized during the interception of the Gaza flotilla vessels in 2010 and in the rescue of the F-16I “Sufa” crew ejected at sea in 2013.

As a part of the preparation to deal with threats from the sea front, the CH-53 “Sea Stallions” and the C-130 “Hercules'” trained for scenarios which focused on responding to naval threats and extracting and rescuing combatants by the shores of Atlit, in northern Israel and led by the IAF’s Participation Department. Differently from former exercises in the interception and extraction disciplines, this year a full simulation of both scenarios was decided on.

“The Participation Department was the initiator of the model and began planning it over six months ago”, shared Lt. L, the exercise leader from HQ in the Extraction and Rescue Department in the Participation Department. “We have practiced these scenarios before, in different configurations and separately, but now we have taken the scenarios and made them one. By connecting the scenarios, you create a high quality and more practical exercise”.

How Does the IAF Deal with Naval Threats

The extraction of the combatants from the water was executed by means of new combat doctrine
The first scenario included Israeli Navy “SEAL” combatants intercepting a ship identified as armament ship sailing towards Israeli shores. The interception began by tactical parachuting of the combatants to the sea from the C-130 “Hercules”, with the equipment needed to reach the ship from the sea. If the interception would have ended successfully, the operation would have ended, but the exercise simulated a situation in which the combatant’s vessel tipped over and in turn the IAF was called to rescue them.

The second C-130 “Hercules” dropped equipment to help the combatants survive their time in the water until their rescue, the CH-35 “Sea Stallions”, joined the mission with the 669 SAR Unit and performed a unique extraction, which included the 669 combatants descending to the sea from the hovering helicopter and extracting the SEALs combatants from the water using ropes, a scenario which was practiced in this configuration for the first time.

“We started off the exercise with a tactic parachuting of the ‘SEAL’ combatants into the ocean”, shared Maj. Nadav, the Operations Division Commander and the exercise leader in the “Knights of the Yellow Bird” Squadron, which operates the C-130 “Hercules”. “The tactical drop of the force, dropping emergency equipment and refueling the aircraft are scenarios which have been practiced before, as a part of former models. But the unfolding events and the need to deal with several scenarios at once happened for the first time in this exercise”.

In addition to the joint scenarios with the Navy, the C-130 “Hercules” and the CH-35 “Sea Stallions” practiced refueling, as preparation for the scenario taking place in the middle of the ocean and at a great distance from Israel’s shores.

During the past decade, the Navy has executed different interception and rescue operations in which the IAF participated and aided in different ways. Accordingly to the current escalation in the Gaza Strip and strengthening global pressure, the threat of additional weapons & armament ships making their way to the strip is rising.

“The naval threat is real and the need for a response to it exists at all times”, explained Lt. L. “Some of the practiced scenarios may not have happened recently but it is important for the IAF to be ready for them at all times”.

How Does the IAF Deal with Naval Threats