Members of the air force’s elite Airborne Rescue And Evacuation Unit 669 met
with intelligence officials and helicopter squadron pilots in recent days to
ensure they were ready to work together to rescue pilots who ejected from their
Although there have been no cases of downed pilots in hostile
territory in many years, the IAF says it remains crucial to prepare for such a
“This is a mission that could occur at any given moment. Even
tomorrow morning,” said Maj. Baruch, head of the Helicopter Department, which is
a part of the Air Division at the IAF’s General Headquarters.
get hold of critical information in a short period of time, and launch the
rescue as quickly as possible.”
Unit 669 members are highly trained in a
range of skills, to be ready to go far behind enemy lines, where they must
extract air crews in trouble. They travel in Sa’artype transport
Those who took part in the recent meeting say that
information-sharing, and drawing up joint working plans dominated talks among
the various units, adding that this sort of cooperation was vital for future
“For air crews, the decision to eject from a plane is
the last answer to a problem that develops in the air,” Maj.
“It only happens when the plane is irreversibly damaged, and there’s no other
choice. As soon as a ‘plane ditched’ message arrives, a chain of actions begins
in the air force, aimed at one goal: Saving the pilot’s life.”
is viewed as a “force in distress,” Baruch said.
According to foreign
press reports, the IAF bombed a weapons convoy in Syria on January 30.
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