UAVs cannot operate without a mission station, from which the operators, or UAV pilots, operate the unmanned aerial vehicles. As a result, UAV squadron personnel maintain the stations relentlessly. “From our point of view, every station on the ground equals an aircraft in the air”
Much has been written about IAF jets’ advanced cockpits. When the siren sounds, the aircrews climb in quickly, close the canopy and take off. It may not have a canopy or fly in the air, but UAV operators have cockpits of their own – mission stations. “The mission station is defined as the cockpit of a platform for all intents and purposes”, clarified Maj. Kobi Levy, former Head of the Ground Department. “From it, the operators control the far-away UAV, so from our point of view every station on the ground equals an aircraft in the air”.
Maj. Kobi’s comparison shouldn’t be taken lightly. Among the various technological systems the mission stations are equipped with, one may notice the system that connects and maintains the connection between the operators on the ground and the UAV in the air. The stations also hold computers, batteries, special lighting and additional technological infrastructure. “Every safety incident is logged”, noted Maj. Levy. “Malfunctions in the station can lead to the cancelation of a mission”.
Routine Maintenance as a Key to Success
In order to make sure that the station operates properly during operational activity, the squadron’s technical personnel are required to maintain it routinely. Therefore, every UAV squadron has an officer and NCO responsible for the maintenance of the stations. In addition, there are technicians who specialize in maintaining the stations who cooperate with the AFBs Maintenance Squadron Personnel. “We work according to organized protocol, test the system before each sortie and perform meticulous tests between the sorties”, specified Maj. Levy. “The technicians document the tests and log every malfunction in the mechanized systems”.
“We cannot operate the UAVs without mission stations”
A significant innovation in the world of mission stations is a new six-year inspection program, in which every six years the stations are placed in the hands of technicians who are responsible for periodic, in depth, examinations, for a month. The technicians disassemble the station, install any new parts required and repaint it. “The UAV Division’s activity is extremely extensive and intensive, so the availability of the mission stations are a top priority”, concluded Maj. Levy and added: “We cannot operate the UAVs without mission stations”.