Unmanned air systems operated by the Israeli air force will have a critical role in first suppressing, then eliminating an attack on the country’s populated areas from Lebanon or Gaza, where huge stockpiles of rockets have been accumulated.
To be ready for such a scenario, the air force’s UAS and aerial intelligence squadrons last week carried out exercises in northern Israel. The squadrons practised detection and tracking missions and targeting simulated rocket launchers, SAM batteries and terrorists, all in short reaction times, while ensuring no civilian casualties.
The Elbit Systems Hermes 450, Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1 and Heron TP UAS, as well as Beechcraft King Air aircraft carrying intelligence-gathering systems, performed combined missions to detect and track targets, which would later be hit by aerial and ground forces.
According to the air force web site, the squadrons also simulated unexpected mission, such as helping to locate pilots missing in action and aiding ground forces.
“During the activity, we practised missions such as intercepting high-trajectory fire at Israel and terrorist and launcher surveillance,” said Major Idan, a Heron 1 operator in the First UAV squadron.
“Sometimes the targets pop up only for a short time and we need to act immediately. In addition, the northern front has both forested and urban areas, which makes it difficult to detect and hit targets.”
The air force’s UAS perform missions every day but these are considered routine, even if they are complex. Last week’s exercise aimed to prepare the UAS squadrons for a totally different situation in which there is a need to stop the launching of rockets into Israel from one area or two simultaneously.
All the experts agree that the “special capabilities” built into the air force’s UAS squadrons in recent years, based on operational experience, will be vital to stop these threats.