IDF soldiers in training .
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The newest soldiers of the IAF’s Aerial Defense Division enlisted on Wednesday, becoming the first draft to enter the service since the introduction of David’s Sling missile-defense system.
The recruits, 60% men and 40% women, arrived at the air defense school in the Negev, where they began basic training, and will then spend another two months of training studying the weapons systems that they will operate during their service.
Air defenses currently include Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The David’s Sling missile-defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 km. and 300 km.
Together, the systems provide Israel with a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short- and mid-range missiles used by terrorist groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.
In January, the Israel Air Force officially took delivery of the first Arrow-3 interceptor, the most advanced Arrow system, which is designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the atmosphere. The first use of the Arrow system occurred in March, when the system was launched to intercept Syrian surface-to-air missiles fired at IAF jets.
According to the division’s commander, Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, all of Israel’s systems are flexible and not tailor-made for one specific kind of threat.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
from his office at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Haimovich admitted that Israel is facing asymmetrical threats, and that the use of UAVs by Israel’s enemies is a challenge, as they are smaller, faster and fly at altitudes lower than planes do.
But, Haimovich said, if you “bring as many solutions as you can to a problem, you can solve the problem. Once you are full of tools, you have unlimited solutions.”
According to a senior IDF officer in the Aerial Defense Division, it’s important that soldiers think outside the box, while maintaining their professionalism.
“There have been situations where soldiers decided to operate the Iron Dome system differently because of their professionalism, and that saved many lives,” he told the Post
, adding that “we will see surprises [by the enemy] in the next escalation, so we must think outside the box regarding the threats, so that we are ready.”
The senior officer told the Post
that the main values in the IAF and the Aerial Defense Division are professionalism and perfection, given the short window of time they have to intercept any incoming missile.
“We have a very small amount of time to react to targets. Ashkelon is very, very close to the Gaza Strip. If you don’t react within three to five seconds, a rocket launched from Gaza will fall on the city,” he said, adding that the soldiers always need to be ready. “We are doing our best to be ready for the next war. The weapons systems are continuously developing, and we are continuously learning the threat we will meet in the next war.”
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the David’s Sling missile-defense system in April, Haimovich told reporters that the challenge and threats faced by Israel from its enemies “are much more complicated than in the past,” but while they may have grown, “they will be met with our newer and more advanced defense systems. “The threats we are facing are much more complicated than in the past, but I am sure that David’s Sling as well as the Iron Dome, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3, will allow us to complete our goals. And I trust that our soldiers and warriors are making the difference between us and our enemies.”