Daily Israel Report

IAF Jets, Choppers Train for UAV Threat

Air Force holds drill against infiltration by fast, sophisticated drones it has not yet encountered.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/24/2014, 9:37 AM

Destruction of enemy UAV
Destruction of enemy UAV
Courtesy: IDF Spokesman

The Air Force conducted a rehearsal last week for an event in which an enemy Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) infiltrates Israeli airspace.

Both jet fighter and combat helicopter squadrons took part in the rehearsal, and practiced interception of a UAV near Israel's border, reported the Air Force website.

The IAF sees the threat as a growing one and the air crews rehearsed situations in which the most sophisticated UAVs in existence attempt to infiltrate – including models that Israel has neer encountered.

"This year, we practiced against a different kind of UAV,” explained Captain Avi, Ground Safety Officer at Ramon Air Base. “It is more advanced, faster and can stay in the air longer than the routine UAVs, and thus poses more of a threat for the air crews.”

Besides the interceptors, the control crews also took part in the drill, as did their detection and alarm systems. It is their job to detect the small aircraft in the country's skies, and continuously monitor them, while scrambling the intercepting jets and helicopters and directing them toward the UAV.

"The training on this specific subject is meant to deal a preventive blow,” Captain Avi explained. “This is a threat that is constantly growing, and the Air Force is not ignoring it, on the contrary, it is preparing for the moment of need.”

Exactly one year ago, the IAF spotted what is believed to have been a Hizbullah UAV in the skies of Haifa. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in a helicopter flight on the way to a tour of northern Israel, when The prime minister's staff, in consultation with security elements, decided to take no chances and instructed the helicopter pilot to land for a short time, until the successful interception by the UAV.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) penetrated Israeli air space from Lebanon Thursday, and was shot down. 

In October, 2012, Hizbullah successfully sent a UAV into Israeli airspace. It was only shot down by the time it had reached the northern Negev, not far from the Dimona nuclear site.