The Israel Air Force Base at Tel Nof near Tel Aviv is holding a four-day drill to prepare for a possible attack by Iranian proxies Hizbullah and Hamas. In the event of war, Israel expects the terror militias to target IAF bases in a bid to prevent jets from taking off. Israel's legendary air force is seen by experts as its prime asset in a war against Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza.
The drill was covered by IAF Magazine – a sign that the IAF wants its enemies to know it is preparing for an attack on its bases.
Since Sunday, sirens have been going off intermittently throughout the base, which is located, south of Tel Aviv and near Rehovot on Israel's coast. While Gaza is geographically much closer to Tel Nof than Lebanon, the drill is billed as a preparation for an attack from the north, where Hizbullah is believed to have tens of thousands of missiles ready for an attack, with ranges that cover the entire length of the Jewish state.
"A missile has struck the underground hangar,” a loudspeaker blares, and then adds the calming words – “a drill, a drill.”
Major T., a pilot from the Hod HeChanit (Tip of the Spear) Squadron, told IAF Magazine that his squadron is not necessarily rehearsing for the current threats but preparing for “future threats and abilities that are expected to enter the theatre of war in the next few years.
"We managed to maintain a high level and achieve good results, “even in the attack missions and the air-to-air scenarios, despite the difficulty inherent in working under missile fire.”
While the base's squadrons perform aerial exercises, the Aerial Combat Rescue and Evacuation Unit – known as Unit 669 – used a Yas'ur CH-53 helicopter to simulate a rescue mission involving six pilots who had bailed from their jets. A munitions unit set up a makeshift weapons plant, and a construction unit rehearsed the filling of craters caused by enemy missiles."
Such craters on runways could presumably prevent jets from taking off.
"One can never know precisely what will happen,” Major T. said. “The main element in absorbing [a missile strike] is psychological. We tried to simulate the difficulty in the best possible way, but one cannot predict how a soldier will function if his best friend is killed.”
Earlier this year, the IDF estimated that in case of war, each IAF base could be directly hit by several dozen missiles.