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A Step Forward In Transportation Release date 12.09.2017
Last week, the IAF Loadmaster Unit performed an emergency supply exercise as part of the "Or HaDagan" exercise, the largest IDF exercise in the past 19 years
Carmel Stern

The Loadmaster Unit, situated in Nevatim AFB, accompanies every aid mission the IAF’s tactical transport aircraft participate in, and is responsible for communicating with the deployed forces during the supply aircraft's landing. Last week, the unit performed the most complex transport exercise in its history. "No other unit in the IDF can perform this task", emphasized Lt. Col. Omer, Commander of the Loadmaster Unit. "The importance of this exercise is huge, both for us and for the forces deployed in the field".

Transportation of munitions, food, medical supplies, water or gas – loadmasters are responsible for transporting all of these to the battlefield. With limited time, far from the destination or deep into enemy territory – the mission can only be performed by aerial transportation.

Photography: Celia Garion

Competence and Agility
From the moment the supply trucks arrive at Nevatim AFB, the loadmasters work at unloading the equipment, packing it, preparing it for flight, loading it onto the aircraft and flying to the landing zone. From there, it is taken to the soldiers in the field. When they land, they open the aircraft's back door and the loadmasters unload the equipment as quickly as possible, after which it is loaded onto supply trucks.

"The whole exercise lasted an entire day. The trucks arrived on Tuesday morning, and by Wednesday around noon, all of the equipment reached the landing zone, was unloaded and sent to the forces in the field", said Capt. Barak, commander of the unit's instructional department. "Munition, food, gas and even uniforms – we transported the equipment in a number of aircraft, with each one carrying several tons of equipment. Each load was received by the unit that required it”.

Photography: Celia Garion

"It's a very complicated qualification", said Lt. Col. Omer. "Planning the exercise took about three weeks instead of six months due to an overload of activity, and everything worked in spite of it. It was nice to see how we were able to implement conclusions we had reached in previous exercises. This mission used to be difficult and complex, and now it seems more possible than before".

Transportation missions are not new to the IAF, but they haven’t been exercised so comprehensively and in cooperation with various IDF units before. The only time this mission was performed operationally was in the First Lebanon War. The IDF was deployed deep in Lebanese territory, and large loads were transported to the airfields it had under its control.

Photography: Celia Garion

Between Pilots and Combatants
IAF Loadmasters are an inseparable part of the IAF’s “Karnaf” (Hercules C-130J) and “Shimson” (Super Hercules C-130J) aircrews, and they are part of every sorties that takes off. While pilots, navigators and flight engineers are responsible for flying the aircraft, loadmasters are the link between the flight-related mission and the requirements of the forces in the field.

“We rehearsed a large number of our missions. Last week we parachuted paratroopers, we transported forces and airlifted supplies”, specified Lt. Col. Omer. “This week we will deal with airdrops and transportation of injured personnel”.

Photography: Celia Garion