Eleven years after 9/11, the Israeli Air Force has carried out training sessions to prevent a repeat of the catastrophe that struck the United States.
“Potential aerial attacks are some of the most frightening scenarios that could be imagined,” the IAF website reported. “During the past week, IAF combat squadrons had a row of training sessions, practicing for the real deal and learning how to prevent it.”
Following the Al Qaeda suicide aerial attacks on New York City’s World Trade Centers’ Twin Towers and on the Pentagon, the IAF said it realized it had to prepare for similar terror threats in Israel.
More than a decade after nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, Air Force combat squadrons stopped their daily routine and took a week to focus on the complexity of aerial attacks.
"During this practice, the pilots face a civilian aircraft that does not respond to the communication device, a hostile UAV collecting intelligence, and a helicopter landing forces in our territory. They need to know how to handle these kinds of situations,” explained First Lieutenant Ronen, instruction officer of the "Defenders of the South" squadron, who is responsible for the squadron's training.
"Although we fly in certain layouts during our daily routine, we practice identifying civilian or enemy aircrafts that invade our aerial territory and threaten Israeli skies,” he added.
The training is meant for combat squadrons, but other squadrons participate as well - Red Formations - squadrons who simulate enemy forces.
The Boeing 707 of the "Desert Giants" simulated a civilian cargo plane that went off course. In this situation, the pilots had to give a second thought before intercepting the plane.
"In the aerial battle situations we usually practice, we know that our aim is to drop the airplane. But when we're dealing with a plane filled with passengers, intercepting isn't always the better option. That's why the dilemmas are challenging no less than the mission itself,” said Ronen.