The IAF is taking part in the mission of defending Israel’s borders. Combat helicopters, UAV’s, transport helicopters, transport aircraft and fighter jets, each of which can be launched at any moment to aid ground forces while protecting the borders from terror

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ofri Aharon & Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

Due to terrorist organizations strengthening their power around the borders, new, complicated security threats are likely to hurt Israel and its sovereignty on the borders, the IDF has to be prepared for these scenarios, by equipping itself, training and routinely acting accordingly.

So what is the IAF’s part in preventing these threats around the borders, a mission usually carried out by the ground forces? How will combat helicopters take part in this mission and what is the combat jets’ place? How can the IAF prepare for the unknown?

“We have been training quite often for defending the borders, the scenarios aircrews deal with are usually penetration of fences and attacks of IDF posts”, explained Major E, deputy commander of the “Magic Touch” Squadron which operates the AH-64A “Apache” combat helicopter and which led a comprehensive, division-wide training exercise this week.

There are two types of events involved when guarding borders: the first is one on which there is prior intelligence and for which IAF’s Operational HQ prepares ahead. The second kind is known as a “bursting event” in the IDF, an event whose motif is the surprise element.

IAF Defending Borders from Terror

“combat helicopters control the sky”
The exercise is part of a series of exercises devoted to protecting Israel’s borders and will be held over the next few months, as a part of which, the “Magic Touch” squadron will train in cooperation with UAV squadrons, the Combat Division, Transport Helicopter Division and the Reconnaissance Division.

The “First” Squadron, operating “Beechcraft King-Air” and the “First UAV” Squadron, operating the “Heron” took part in the exercise conducted this week.

“When a ‘bursting event’ takes place, we are immediately deployed and our function is to be an assisting force for infantry forces. In real-time, combat helicopters control the sky: they manage the aerial campaign, provide reports to the IAF control station regarding events happening beneath them and assist in synchronization between aircrafts”, described Maj. A. “The work with the UAVs is executed like in a formation in which everyone has his role, they have examination abilities of the field and we have focused attack abilities and communication with the ground. The ‘Beechcraft King-Air’ also takes part in the exercises, because in the case of ‘bursting events’ like a terror squad penetrating a village, we require real-time intelligence”.

The current exercise was designed on an “unplanned” basis, a central and important component, when discussing thwarting “bursting events” at the borders.

“We do not tell the aircrews anything about the scenario they will encounter. They are deployed, take off and
are briefed in the air, like in a real ‘bursting event’ in which there is simply no time for any preparations and you receive your mission in action”, said Maj. A. The ability to make fast decisions in real-time is relevant now more than ever, when around Israel, terror organizations which have the ability to create events in mere minutes, are taking the place of countries.

“Uncertainty is a major characteristic in the last few years, once you would know ahead of time that you were going to be deployed and would have prepared for it, but the nature of border terror today creates situations in seconds, you take off and only then understand the bigger picture”.

IAF Defending Borders from Terror

The Combat Division is also Training for “Bursting Events”
When will jet fighters arrive at the scene and why? “Fighters can contribute with massive munitions, if intimidation or blockage of routes are needed”, clarified Capt. Jonathan, Combat training Officer in IAF HQ. “When there is an event on the border and there is a need to disrupt the movement of a fleeing vehicle, or when a target needs to be destroyed, they will call a jet fighter”.

Another advantage that fighters hold is speed: thwarting ground events may not be a classic mission for platforms which are better fitted for thwarting border events such as penetration of aircraft, but the combat division also trains for immediate events on the borders.

“Many training exercises in the combat squadron’s training program are designed to improve the division’s abilities to operate in such situations. We add elements of uncertainty to the sorties, shorten response times, brief in the air and mostly create a pressured atmosphere on the radio”, elaborated the Combat training Officer.

IAF Defending Borders from Terror