The "Sky Rider" unit, IDF's elite UAV operating force, is implementing a series of changes and upgrades, IDF magazine Bamahane reported. Among other changes, a UAV squad will be assigned to every active battalion in the IDF.
The duration of the course required for joining the unit will be lengthened from 8 months to a year. The additional four months will include collaborative training with other battalions.
In March, graduating officers joining the unit will begin their own training course specific to the unit, as opposed to simply joining the general Combat Officers' Course.
Several non-commissioned soldiers and commanders will be promoted to officers' ranks, strengthening the unit's presence in the field.
"The decision to assign officers will drastically improve the quality of command," said unit commander, Col. Uri Gonen. "The training an officer undergoes is much longer than that of regular soldiers, and it includes making better, army-wide connections with the various units. In a unit that cooperates so frequently with other units, the commander should feel at home in any unit, from armor to infantry, so that he can effectively manage the dialogue and collaboration between units."
Within the next year, the Sky Rider unit expects to receive a new version of its trademark UAV, the "Skylark," from Elbit. The new version will boast improved communication devices and greater operational range. In addition, an operator will have the ability to fly several UAVs simultaneously. The new version will pass operational trials within the next year, and soldiers will begin training with it in November.