The operational cooperation between the Israel navy and air force is tightening. New threats in the Mediterranean, and far away, have created the need for daily joint operations.
In long-range operations such as intercepting ships that tried to smuggle weapons to the Gaza Strip, the air force has been very active in detecting the ships and coordinating the actions needed to stop them on the high seas.
But recently, a closer-range operation became urgent, following intelligence data that pointed to a possible new very imminent threat.
The Israeli navy will integrate the helicopters that are deployed on its SAAR 5 missile corvettes and the Heron-1 unmanned air system (UAS) in the new mission of defending the oil and gas reservoirs that have been discovered in the Mediterranean off the Israeli shore.
The reservoirs are now being prepared for commercial use, and there is a constant and imminent threat to them.
The Israeli navy will assume the protection mission and will fully integrate its flying platform for the mission.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is operating Heron-1 (Soval) UAS with maritime patrol sensors as a “subcontractor” to the Israeli navy.
The maritime Heron are operated in parallel to the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI ) Westwind 1124 business jets in Seascans configuration, which have been operated since 1978.
The maritime UAS are equipped with a similar payload now carried by the Seascan.
This includes an Elta search radar and a Tamam stabilised long-range optical observation system.
The Heron-1 has an endurance of more than 30 hours at an altitude of 30,000ft. It can carry multiple payloads with a total weight of 250kg.
The Eurocopter AS-565SA (Atalef) is operated from the decks of the SAAR 5 missile corvettes.
So all these flying platforms that are “working” for the navy will be used in a more coordinated way to be able to detect threats and counter them in time.