The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has taken combined air-ground combat a huge step forward.
Recently, combat pilots left their familiar F-16 cockpits and went into the “cockpits” of Merkava-4 main battle tanks in the midst of a live-fire armoured corps exercise.
“Next time we operate with the armoured corps, we will have a better concept of the situation they are in,” one of the pilots told the IAF magazine.
“Each of the pilots sat by one of the tank division commanders; we experienced the tank up close and worked side by side with its operators through rough and uncertain conditions and felt the complex power of controlling this sort of force,” said Lt Col Matan, commander of the IAF’s Defenders of the South squadron.
“We also discovered the firepower of this tank. It was a great experience,” said Matan, describing the night the pilots climbed into the tank and took part in a live-fire exercise in the Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border.
“We want to improve the personal relationships between the two formation members and learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to assist one another,” said Matan.
“Next time we operate with the armoured corps, we will have a better concept of the situations they are in.”
In recent wars the co-operation between the air force and ground forces increased as fighting continued. The role switch is one way of improving the mutual operational understanding.