One side wants to attack while the other side wants to prevent a penetration of its territory. The tension, combativeness and element of surprise are all present. Debriefing and declaring the winner isn’t simple, This is what training exercises look like in IAF fighter squadrons
The “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron that operates the “Sufa” (F-16I) and the “Hammers” Squadron that operates the “Ra’am” (F-15I) usually operate as sister squadrons that share resources and hold joint training exercises, but today, they are rivals. “Final Result Day” is a unique training exercise that sets the AFB’s fighter squadrons one against the other, under equal circumstances, and has only one victor. One squadron’s goal is to shoot down the other squadron’s aircraft while it attempts to attack ground targets in its “enemy’s” territory. The combative spirit blowing from both sides and the difference between the platforms create a great amount of tension in the air and in the debriefing room.
Pushed to the Edge
The familiar scenario that combines the fighter division’s main missions, such as sky-defense, preventing enemy aircraft penetration and Air-Ground attacks of infrastructure or strategic targets in the other’s territory. What makes this type of exercise challenging despite training beside and against your friends in familiar scenarios?
“An exercise becomes good and tense when you ‘get hit’ as well, and need to find alternative modes of action. In these exercises you receive many points for improvement and conservation that have operation value and every person participating, in the technical and flight departments as well, can learn from them”, said Maj. Ziv, Deputy Commander of the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron.
Correct analysis of timing in each move, a good amount of patience for the moment your enemy aircraft cages itself in a missile struck area with no armament and even real-time debriefing, in the air – are some point the aircrews took with them. “If we won’t debrief ourselves while flying, we won’t understand why our aircraft are dropping”, explained Lt. Col. M, Commander of the “Knights of the Orange Tail” Squadron. “In real life the aircrew that was shot down would already be parachuting down. Better communication inside the formation and real-time debriefing will effect their friends and the final outcome”.
The difference between the “Ra’am” (F-15I) and the “Sufa” (F-16I) fighter jets that the squadrons operate is an important component in creating an exercise that feels like an operational sortie. “The experience is of flying against an advanced aircraft, equal to yours, but with different displays and appearance. Each platform has its advantages and the training exercise is designed to put them on equal ground with clear rules”, explained Lt. Ron from the “Hammers” Squadron. “Your performance is decided by the extent of your combativeness. We received rules and we had to test our ability to be creative within the limitations, how to create surprise for the other side”.
The exercise directorate, headed by Hatzerim AFB’s Flight Squadron Commander, congregated to declare the winner. Representatives from each squadron arrived to deliver their data and numbers. Every member of the IAF knows that debriefing and declaring a winner in competitions like this is just as complex as preforming operational missions. Each side is certain they’re correct and every piece of data can be interpreted many ways. But ultimately, precise debriefing is decisive. And the winner: the “Hammers” Squadron.