The changing Israeli northern front requires the country’s air force to deal with new threats and instability in neighboring countries. This is why cadets from the Operational Training Course for the combat helicopter squadrons came to the northern border to “feel” the area without being enclosed behind cockpit windows and helmet.
The air force has been particularly active recently on Israel’s northern front with Syria and Lebanon. This has included round-the-clock reconnaissance missions and some “ghost” attacks on convoys of weapon systems in transit from Syria to Lebanon.
The special training day on the northern front included flights over flat areas as well as mountainous terrain, with an eye on the different threats from anti-aircraft systems that are deployed across the border.
But the cadets not only sat in the helicopter cockpits. They landed and took a ground tour of some of the more “meaningful”" spots in the area.
After that they were taken to meet the people that operate the northern situation room. From there, targets are located traced and engaged by the air force’s Apache helicopters.
“The combat helicopter pilots are in direct contact with the field intelligence observers during operational missions,” First Lieutenant Shai told the air force website. “The field intelligence observers know the frontier better than everyone else. They help us in the territory and they do so directly. As part of the training, we came to see the impressive work they do, to understand their side of the mission and to strengthen the co-operation and the bond between us.”
When the targets – in most cases rocket launchers or anti-aircraft guns – are positioned in heavily populated areas, sometimes in back yards of houses, the real-time intelligence data is vital for a successful surgical attack. The opportunity given to the cadets to meet the people that select the targets for them is, according to sources, a very “important asset” that will help them to perform operational missions over an area that by all indications will continue to contain multiple threats.