When the “Valley” Squadron’s reserve and emergency positioned members arrived for a weekend training exercise, they were met by quite a surprise. All of the mandatory service members of the squadron left the squadron in order to simulate a “Red” force. The mission: managing the squadron during war and dealing with extreme scenarios

Eitam Almadon

It was an eventful weekend for the “Valley” Squadron that operates the “Barak” (F-16C/D) from Ramat-David AFB. As a part of a unique two-day training exercise, the reserve and emergency positioned members of the squadron took the place of the squadron’s usual pilots and WSOs. “The goal of every REP (Reserve and Emergency Positioned) exercise is to create an intensive and high quality exercise in a short time, which is sometimes tied to a specific concept or specific members of the squadron”, explained Lt. Gideon, a WSO from the squadron.

Staying Sharp

Photography: Celia Garion

In the current REP exercise, the planners decided to focus on the squadron’s formation leaders. “Formation (quartet) leader is the most senior function in the fighter division and is made up of aircrews – pilots and WSOs – who, in mission, command a formation of four jets”, said Lt. Gideon. “Achieving this position requires a high level, professionalism, seniority and many years of experience”.

Staying Sharp

Photography: Mor Tzidon

Preparing for a Sortie
“We had no idea what was going to happen”, shared Lt. Col. (Res.) Ronen, a reserve WSO from the squadron. “We arrived in the squadron in the morning and it was completely empty. We entered the briefing room and found a note with directions to open the computer. A video awaited us on the screen which said that for the exercise, the squadron is ours and we must manage it. Immediately afterwards, we received our orders, appointed a squadron commander and other positions and began preparing for a sortie”.

Staying Sharp

Photography: Mor Tzidon

Various Missions and Divisions
Various missions were rehearsed in the two days of the division crossing exercise in which the “Nachshon”, “Desert Giants” and “Flying Dragon” Squadrons also participated. The aircrews practiced Air-Air combat, identification of ground targets, ground attacks, sky defense missions and complex sorties which simulated dilemmas such as fuel shortages, a tough opposition and unusual missions. Simultaneously, the aircrews also faced ground scenarios, such as shut down runways and damaged HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelters).

“We rehearsed a situation in which there were no technicians in the HAS, so we had to prepare and refuel the aircraft ourselves”, shared Maj. (Res.) Eitan, a WSO from the squadron. “In one of the takeoffs during the exercise, the HAS was blocked and we had to figure out how to get the jets out of it. We debrief after each sortie and measure our success by the number of shoot downs we perform and targets we hit”.

Staying Sharp

Photography: Celia Garion