The “Defensive Sword” Battalion which operates the “Arrow” Aerial Defense System held an interception training exercise in which the combatants dealt with various scenarios of varying difficulty. What kind of dilemmas do the interceptors who are responsible for the highest layer of defense deal with? And how are they preparing for the integration of the “David’s Sling” system?

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

In reality it flies through the air at a tremendous speed. On the screens in the IMC (Interception Management Center) the target moves slowly across a few centimeters and every change it undergoes in the sky changes its color on the screen. Now it is down to deciding – to intercept or not to intercept? In an interception exercise held recently in a “Defensive Sword” battalion, “Arrow” battery which provides protection from ballistic targets in the top layer, the combatants dealt with command and interception dilemmas. Officers in mandatory service and reserve servicemen congregated in order to exercise various scenarios in all theatres. “Of course there will be challenges that we cannot expect in advance in combat, but we simulate surprise events and malfunctions in order to create a scenario of uncertainty for the operators and train them to deal with unexpected situations”, said Lt. Itay Ariav, Head of the “Arrow” and Defensive Systems Department in the Aerial Defense Division. The exercise began with a scenario built according to the daily intel forecast, that the battery combatants know all too well, as they are the routine safety battery of the “Defensive Sword” Battalion. The difficulty level rose quickly and the final scenario confronted the combatants with an emergency situation in which the country is attacked by massive salvos of missiles.

To Intercept or not to Intercept?

Photography: Tal Giladi 

The Interception Management Center -Behind the Scenes Look
When entering the room, the IMC looks like a crowded computer room, but as you know, looks can be deceiving. From its stations the different components of the aerial defense from SAR missiles and rockets are executed. The starting point is in the ballistic image station which receives information from radars deployed all over the country. The identification officers who sit in it, are those who remove the veil from the foreign objects and give them a name. According to the radar, it is possible to cross-reference data and learn important details about the incoming target – will it break apart or fall? When and where will it fall? In the command station positioned in the center of the IMC and overlooks it all, sits the IMC Commander and the commanders responsible for the interceptions and systems who maintain the connection with the Control Station in IAF HQ. In this station it is possible to inspect the work of the control officers in the IMC and confirm the interception leaving their stations. This all happens in accordance with the general policy which considers many considerations such as the cost of intercepting the target, the amount of ammunition, availability, etc. As is customary in the IAF, the whole process is debriefed throughout and following it. A unique debriefing station focuses on the function of the systems or specific targets which are dealt with in the IMC.

To Intercept or not to Intercept?

Photography: Tal Giladi 

The Ability to Intercept UAVs
The arrival of the “David’s Sling” System in the world of interception is expected to have a significant influence on the different defense systems in the division and it will be able to optimally deal with unique targets in the medium defense layer. “In every combined exercise held, we get used to the presence of “David’s Sling” and learn how it integrates into the interception image”, explains Lt. Alfred. “‘David’s Sling’ will take pressure off ‘Arrow’ in the specific targets field and allow us to focus on the higher layer of defense we specify in”.

The Aerial Defense Division and the Active Defense world are undergoing many changes, and one system which improves its abilities doesn’t leave its sisters far behind. An “Iron Dome” system upgrade, which for the first time, gives it the ability to intercept UAVs, with the integration of “David’s Sling” do not intimidate “Arrow”. It has an answer: a new software “block” being integrated in the Palmahim Battery as we speak. What advantages does the new block hold? The ability to communicate with the other systems upgraded versions, which implies among other things that information about the other systems’ abilities in real time will appear on the screen, so the interceptors in the different IMCs won’t need to waste time on inner communication. And there is more. What you can be sure of is that there is someone watching your back and he is alert and tense.

To Intercept or not to Intercept?

Photography: Tal Giladi