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A Night at the HAS Release date 06.06.2018
How is an operational sortie performed? How is an aircraft armed with munition under pressure? What happens when a HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter) is under attack? An IAF Site reporter joined the 109th ("The Valley") Squadron to spend a night at the HAS as part of a widescale IAF training exercise
Tal Ben-Naeh

The IAF is currently in the midst of a widescale training exercise featuring every unit in the force, preparing for combat in the northern and southern theatres. As part of the exercise, the participants drill scenarios of maintaining aerial superiority in threatened spaces and under SAM (Surface-to-air missile) fire; attacking many targets in a short time; air defense; reconnaissance; and defense of Israel's borders.

Photography: Celia Garion

The exercise was planned in advance as part of the IAF's annual training plan with the goal of preserving the forces' fitness and preparedness. The IAF's training plan is managed by the Training & Doctrine Division, which is responsible for the air force's preparedness, with topics ranging from combat doctrines to the annual training plan.

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Without Stopping
I arrive at Ramat David AFB's entrance and hear the "Red Alert" siren from far away. I am worried, but I quickly remind myself that the siren is part of the exercise, simulating multi-theater combat. The current simulated scenario included an attack of the base, the reason for the sounding siren. As I look up, I see four "Barak" (F-16C/D) aircraft from the 109th ("The Valley") Squadron pass by.

I've often wondered how things are done behind the scenes, what work is needed before and after a sortie, how you act under pressure and how operational sorties are performed when the base is under the threat of a missile attack. In order to be able to answer these questions, I decided to spend 24 hours in a HAS during one of the busiest days of the exercise.

Photography: Koral Dvir

The Long Night
19:00 – The sun has gone down. Cpl. Yarden Elzasar, a technician at the 109th ("The Valley") Squadron, greets me when I arrive. "Our goal is to ensure as many takeoffs as possible with the smallest amount of delays possible and no mistakes at all", said Cpl. Elzasar. "The greatest difficulty is transferring from the Technical School to your operational squadrons. You have to get used to being called for operational action, a busy routine and a great responsibility. However, these difficulties aren't as important when you realize you are a part of something big. The air force's success depends on our work".

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00:05 – I hear the aircraft landing from afar. All the technicians run to their positions. After the aircraft lands, one of the technicians directs the aircraft to the HAS using glow sticks.

00:08 – The second aircraft lands and another technician crew gets to work. I look around excitedly – another sortie has ended successfully. However, the technicians still have a lot of work ahead of them.

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07:00 – The sun has gone up. Four aircraft take off and wake me from my sleep. Throughout the night, I learned the scope of the technician's work – they work long hours, always on ready alert with a great responsibility on their shoulders. The work of the Technical Division is directly related to every aircraft in the air. They play a significant part in the IAF's workforce.