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IAF RPAV Training Day Release date 01.03.2018
An RPAV Training Day saw the IAF's RPAV operators face four different scenarios in two theatres, including soldier abductions and detection of terrorist vehicles
Yael Fuchs

The RPAV Division is one of the IAF's busiest divisions, performing intelligence, detection and documentation missions around the clock. Last week, a designated RPAV Division training day was held in order to strengthen the cooperation between the squadrons.

Archive Photo

The training was led by an Artillery Corps unit located in Palmahim AFB which operates the "Hermes 450" RPAV. The RPAV operators from the Tel-Nof and Palmahim AFBs drilled cooperative missions in extreme situations, and together, the squadrons faced four scenarios in two theatres using five different platforms.

"We usually drill complex scenarios in these training exercises, but this time we decided to focus on the most basic scenarios in order to learn from each other", said Lt. A', the training exercise's leader. "In the briefing, it was clear that each squadron's operational method was different. This was an opportunity for the squadrons to familiarize themselves with different modes of operation".

The training exercise also included a number of unexpected scenarios. "We rarely encounter emergency situations under threat", said Lt. A' of the "First RPAV" Squadron. "During a routine scenario, we were requested to provide assistance nearby. I wondered if the request was a part of the training exercise or not. I quickly realized it was, and went into action. It reminded me why it's important for us to always be on ready-alert. You can never know when an exercise will turn into a real-time scenario".

Photography: Celia Garion

A Matter of Communication
The operators divided into formations of four aircraft. Maj. (Res') D' and Capt. M', who operate "Hermes 450" RPAVs, were chosen to lead the formation, while Capt. (Res') A', from the same squadron, operated a "Hermes 900" RPAV.
"When many aircraft are up in the air at the same time, everything becomes a matter of communication", said Lt. T', the squadron's exercise leader. "There are many service members on a limited number of communication channels. The solution is forming a combat doctrine which will enable proper communication between the various factors".

"We divide the missions according to each aircraft's properties", explained Lt. A'. "A faster aircraft will be assigned surveillance missions. However, an aircraft with high-quality photography capabilities will be assigned with missions which require precise identification of targets".

Photography: Celia Garion

Another Success
Maj. D' and Capt. M' complete their first scenario when Southern Command radios them with a request for assistance following an explosion at the border. The intel implies that an IDF soldier may have been abducted. Now the operators are required to act according to Southern Command's needs. "The RPAV Division has a close relationship with the GOC Army Headquarters. It's important that we know how to communicate, especially when under pressure".

The RPAV formation continued to scan the area of the explosion in search of the terrorist forces. Intel arrived saying three suspects were seen south of the area, leading the formation to re-assess their plan: some of the RPAVs are trusted with surveilling the vehicle while others scan specific areas. The vehicle stops and the terrorist forces leave, the information is transferred to Southern Command, which sends ground forces to the vehicle. The event comes to an end and the operators experience another successful operation.