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Combined Training in Palmahim AFB Release date 01.05.2018
Last week, the 98th Paratroopers Division’s senior service members participated in an aerial training day in cooperation with service members from the RPAV (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle) and Helicopter squadrons in Palmahim AFB
Yael Fuchs | Photography: Orely Amzaleg, Palmahim AFB

Last week, senior service members from the 98th Paratroopers Division - which commands over the Paratroopers Brigade and the Commando Brigade – participated in an aerial training day in cooperation with service members from the RPAV (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle) and Helicopter squadrons in Palmahim AFB. “This exercise helps us develop an ideal cooperation between the forces and prepare for war”, stated Brig. Gen. N’, Commander of Palmahim AFB.

The Importance of Interoperability
“The day began with a combined brief in the 123rd ("Desert Birds") Squadron’s debriefing room. We presented the exercise's content during the brief”, explained Maj. L’, an IAF representative from the Commando Brigade. “The commanders received general information regarding the situation, and were required to plan the operation together”.

Representatives from the 123rd Squadron and senior service members from the 98th Paratroopers Division divided the exercise into several components – taking over enemy vehicles, catching and attacking terrorists, transporting ground forces by air and defending the combatants in the field - all while avoiding unrelated elements in the dense urban theatre.

“The battlefield is evolving and the enemy develops accordingly. As a result, the force’s mode of operation needs to develop and adapt to the changes”, declared Brig. Gen. N’. “Our challenge is getting to know both the capabilities and the limits of every force working side by side. Planning ahead allows us to develop the optimal solution for the various threats. Only interoperability will allow us to win”.

The Other Side
"The practical training was divided into two parts in which the service members were divided into two groups. In each part, one group trained with a 'Yanshuf' (Black Hawk) helicopter while the other viewed the exercise from an RPAV control station", described Maj. L'. "It gives the operating forces an opportunity to see what things look like from the other side".

On the control station's screens, the commando operators could see an aerial overview of the battlefield. Their division on one side and the simulated enemy on the other. The RPAV operator and a "Peten" (AH-64 Apache Longbow) attack helicopter pilot from the 190th ("Magic Touch") Squadron updated the combatants in real-time, guiding them towards their targets.

"The ground forces help us in attaining a complete overview of the battlefield and we help them in return", elaborated Lt. Col. S', commander of an IAF squadron which operates "Hermes 450" and "Kochav" (Hermes 900) RPAVs. "Our mutual language has to be precise so that we don't waste time on misunderstandings. The ground forces have to gather information and relay it to us while we provide the combatants with everything we have to offer".

"Our mutual work requires an understanding of the attack helicopters' goals, whether defensive or offensive", said Capt. Y', the 190th Squadron's exercise leader. During the exercise, the ground forces encountered an attempted attack. They contacted the helicopter and guided it to the relevant area. "We may wear flight suits, but during combined operations we're subject to the ground forces", said Capt. Y'.

A Solid Cooperation
"Cooperation has a number of conditions", elaborated Brig. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, Commander of the 98th Paratroopers Division. "You have to be well informed in your profession, there has to be a mutual collaboration on a personal level and communication must be precise. Otherwise, it won't work. Each one of the division's commanders will have an aircraft at his command during the next campaign. Preparing the aircraft for the mission will take time and both sides' demands must be fully fleshed out. After we provide the ground forces with air support, they need to think whether or not they received the full extent of the necessary assistance".