The ceremony to receive the UAV “Spark” was held on Sunday, in which the UAV was received by the 144th UAV Squadron at the Hatzor Air Force Base. The ceremony was headed by the Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, the Head of the UAV Directorate at the Ministry of Defense, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Rafael's Air & C4ISR Systems Division, Yuval Miller, and CEO of Aeronautics Group, Dan Slasky.
The 144th Squadron is the first to operate the new and advanced UAV - the “Spark” - from Rafael and Aeronautics.
The 144th Squadron was established in 1972 and began its journey as a combat squadron in the IAF. During its years of activity, the squadron operated combat aircraft such as the "Nesher", "Kfir," and "Netz".
The 144th Squadron is known for participating in Israel's wars with exceptional achievements in the Yom Kippur War, downing over 40 enemy aircraft.
In 2022, the squadron was converted to a UAV squadron and re-opened at the Hatzor Air Force Base. According to the IAF, the "Spark" UAV will significantly improve the ability of the operating troops to act offensively and effectively according to data that will be received. This is a new capability of the UAV Array, which constitutes the gateway to the fifth generation of the array in the IDF.
The "Storm Clouds" project is the development and production project of the "Spark" UAV led by the Director of UAVs at the Ministry of Defense, Rafael and Aeronautics. This multi-faceted system is a significant component of multi-dimensional warfare.
The "Spark" is an aircraft produced by the Rafael and "Aeronautics" company, and it is designed to carry out contractual missions, intelligence actions, escort ground forces, direct strikes, and more.
Head Director of UAVs at the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure in the Ministry of Defense: “Today we laid another brick in the security wall of the State of Israel.
The Storm Cloud Array is ground-breaking in the IDF's UAV arrays, it is technological and conceptual that implements, in cooperation with all the IDF's branches, robotics and aerial autonomy capabilities that are at the forefront of technology."
Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar: “This is an exciting day in which we rise to another level, a day in which the squadron has more aircraft and weapons alongside its excellent service members. A day when the "Storm Clouds" project turns from a vision into a wonderful reality. The squadron has come a long way since its establishment about a year ago, until receiving the aircraft today. I want to show my appreciation to you for that.”
Commanding Officer of the 144th Squadron, Lt. Col. A.: “This is a celebration for the IDF, for the IAF and the 144th Squadron in particular. This is the day in which the IDF receives the “Spark” aircraft that will create the backbone of an innovative and boundary-breaking array that will dramatically change the balance of troops on the future battlefield.
The “Spark” aircraft presented in front of you is an extraordinary Israeli development. It combines innovation, creativity, and motivation like no other. An aircraft that will give us an array to continue to grow, expand, and become, in due course, the cutting-edge of the IDF's capabilities in the coming decades against our enemy on the other side.”
Executive Vice President and General Manager of Rafael's Air & C4ISR Systems Division, Yuval Miller: “Rafael and Aeronautics are proud to hand over to the IDF and the IAF the "Storm Clouds" development system and the "Spark" aircraft that stands in front of it. The "Storm Clouds" project, which Rafael and Aeronautics have been leading in recent years, is a significant breakthrough in upgrading the IAF’s capabilities and is a significant force multiplier. We will continue to work towards the realization that our vision is a significant pillar in the security of the State of Israel."
CEO of Aeronautics Group, Dan Slasky: “This is a strategic breakthrough that will change the future battlefield. The system combines an innovative operational concept with technological capabilities that are the cutting edge of the world in many ways.
All of this was only possible thanks to the solid connection between the vision of The Israeli Ministry of Defense, the IAF, and the IDF's branches, together with the capabilities and innovative technological solutions with a lot of thinking outside of the box at Rafael, Aeronautics and its subsidiaries, in this major program.”