The EW (Electronic Warfare) Division has received new and advanced technological systems that promise optimal guarding of IAF aircraft. We went out to check what has changed, who operate the systems and how the division’ servicemen and women affect the aerial campaign

Vered Talala | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

Over the years, many mystical and magical properties have been tied to crows. Over the past few years, the bird has received yet another attribution – as the international symbol of attacks that happen under the radar – Electronic Warfare. The IDF’s “Crow” units might be scattered all over the country, but there is only one that operates in the air – the “Celestial Crows”, that is positioned in Tel-Nof AFB.

A Peek into the Top Secret Unit

Photography: Mor Tzidon

The unit’s reserve and mandatory service personnel recently held a wide scale, intensive training exercise in Israeli skies. The exercise simulated the combat image in the current battlefield, which is full of aerial threats and the operational challenges that they are expected to face in the next campaign in the northern theatre. We joined the special day in order to get a closer look at their missions and understand how such a small and secretive unit can affect an entire campaign.

Everyone Working Together
The “Celestial Crows” Unit’s main mission is to help IAF aircraft evade enemy discovery systems, such as radar, on their way to the point in which they are able to perform their mission, so almost every operational mission performed by IAF aircraft is escorted by the unit’s EW packages.

In the exercise, that simulated combat against Lebanon, all of the aerial platforms on which the unit performs its mission, such as the “Karnaf” (Hercules C-130) and the “Yas’ur” (CH-53), participated in the exercise. “In the exercise, we measured our cooperative abilities with all of the other elements in the helicopter while we operate”, explained Ssgt. Ofer, who operates EW systems hosted on the helicopter. “During the flight, we are required to optimally divide our attention in order to perform our mission efficiently. There are a number of elements talking to us at the same time, like the aircrew sitting in the cockpit, ATC and other EW Operators in other flight platforms next to us”.

A Peek into the Top Secret Unit

Photography: Mor Tzidon

The significant role of the EW Division in the battlefield has been proved many times before in different operations. “We rehearsed situations that simulated war as closely as possible”, shared Lt. Col. (Res’) N’, who has served in the unit for over four decades and has seen all of the ups and downs of it. “The uniqueness of this kind of exercise is that all of the operators from all of the platforms debrief together, in order to be readier for the next operation”.

In the last six months, the unit has been operationally deployed many times, a precedent in comparison with the past. Simultaneously with the operational activity, the unit’s personnel have been improving their ability to perform under fire and in continuous warfare and have fitted the training in the EW Academy to the new systems. “The last six months were not routine for the unit, not in development, not in renewal and not in activity”, said Brig. Gen. Uri Zeipert, Tel-Nof AFB Commander, to the unit’s personnel at the exercises commencement. “Your connection to the mission is of great significance”.

A Peek into the Top Secret Unit

Photography: Mor Tzidon