The Flying Dragon Squadron, "The Center for Advanced Training", is already famous for its pilots, who are responsible for enemy simulation in IAF exercises. The pilots are experts at mimicking the flight techniques of Israel's hostile countries, as Syrian flags emblazon their jumpsuits along with their adopted Arabic names. But aside from the pilots, this squadron has a lesser-known yet equally important part-the Enemy Simulation and Radiation Defense Division.
The people of the division work alongside the pilots of the squadron in exercises, in order to complete the simulation. Along with the "enemy" planes that attack the pilots in the exercise, the ground becomes hostile as well: missile batteries attack the participants, terrorist groups sneak across the desert sands, suspicious cars cross and an injured pilot who abandoned his plane in hostile territory awaits rescue as his condition worsens.
Fireworks, Not Only on Independence Day
The people of the division are able to simulate all these by using fireworks, smoke machines and even a real Scud launcher installed on a van, which serves as a bombing target in the exercises. All these attack the IAF pilots, who don't know what will await them out in the fields.
"The fireworks that we launch on the planes surprise the pilots", explains the operational officer of the division, Captain Elior Arviv.
"On every flight there's an officer who's aware of what is going to happen. It's his job to update us when the plane approaches the checkpoint".
The people of the division love the unique place they've arrived at, many of them by chance, which has no counterpart in the force or even in the IDF.
"When we spend time out in the fields, there's a true atmosphere of combat", shares Second Lieutenant Limor Tessma, an officer at the division. "When you see the launching of a firework and the speed in which it travels, you get a rush of adrenaline that you don't get anywhere else".
So if you're thinking of making a trip to the Uvda airbase in Southern Israel, and the smoke-clouds and explosions cause you to think you've stumbled upon a battlescene, before you run for shelter make sure it is not just another exercise of the Enemy Simulation and Radiation Defense Division.