In recent days, Israeli air force unmanned air vehicles have proven that they have a critical role to play in defending Israel.
Since the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel has intensified, aircraft from the air force’s First UAV Squadron, operating from Palmachim air base in the centre of the country, have flown around the clock . The Israel Defense Forces launched the “protective edge” operation on 8 July and from that moment, the UAVs have become a crucial tool in suppressing rocket fire on Israeli populated areas.
The squadron is operating Heron 1 UAVs, which have now performed a record number of missions over Gaza with the support of a massive maintenance effort.
“Our main goal is to prevent high-trajectory fire on the State of Israel,” says 1 Lt Matan, head of the squadron’s planning team. “We are conducting a mission in which we track launching teams in order to identify them even before they have executed a launch and we have already succeeded in doing this a number of times in recent days,” he told the IAF website.
With the help of the squadron, the IAF has hit launching pits before or immediately after the rockets were launched.
The squadron identifies changes in the behavior of the launch teams. “Just as we improve, so they improve their methods all the time in every field,” says a security officer from the unit. “So, we track and identify new fighting doctrines that they develop and learn how to deal with them.”
The First UAV Squadron is closely co-operating with other units of the IAF . Since the beginning of the current operation, it has performed combined missions with the squadron that operates the larger Heron TP UAV, as well as the unit that operates the Beechcraft B200 Super King Air (“Zofit”) reconnaissance aircraft.
The First UAV squadron has called up some of its reservists for service, some of whom are working for the companies that developed the vehicles and the payloads they carry.
No simulation can be more precise than operating the system you have developed, in real combat.