Night attacks are a significant part of the IAF’s operational activity. In light of the technological developments and in correspondence with the ever-changing arena, the IAF is training in all hours of the day – the advantages, the challenges and the old threat which might become relevant again
The Key to Victory: Technology and People
The IAF has to maintain aerial supremacy and its ability to defend Israel’s skies. In order to achieve these targets, the force works around the clock and most of its flights take place in the dark. Executing operations in the dark has many advantages and great importance. “At night, it’s harder for the enemy to discover and identify our aircraft”, explained Lt. Yotam, WSO from the “Negev” Squadron, which operates the F-16I “Sufa” and led the exercise.
The “Sufa” and “Raam” Divisions’ assignment (amongst others) is moon-lit activity. “These squadrons know how to fly low, thusly they are the ones which focus on long-range night flights”, explained Lt. Yotam. In accordance, the exercise focused on low-flying, in silence and in deep enemy territory, while considering the dynamic arena, multiple threats and players, such as the coalition flights and the presence of terror organizations at the borders. “We practiced the mission of attacking a complex target in the northern front and navigation in low-altitude flight while considering our restrictions and operational dilemmas. The scenario combined SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) threat and an air-air threat – a threat that we understand that might become relevant again”.
The technology and means at the disposal of the IAF’s Fighter Jet Division in the modern era, allow multiple night attacks, but they alone do not suffice – the aircrews must operate with extreme accuracy and pay attention to the smallest details. The darkness, which worsens visibility, alongside the meticulous safety procedures make night flight’s complex and challenging. “In the exercise, we cooperated with the ‘Desert Giants’ C-130 Squadron. Every sortie began with an aerial refueling, a mission harder to perform at night. We also worked with the personnel from the Southern ATC Unit and controlled the countries skies with them”, shared Lt. Yotam.
“It was a challenging week for us and the combat support divisions who work around the clock”, added Lt. Or. “We need to be alert and to act quickly and safely, especially due to the fact that our skies are very crowded”.