Battalion will keep IAF bases operational in attack

Fearing Hezbollah, Syrian missile attacks, IAF decides to establish battalion at bases that will ensure operational continuity.

December 23, 2011 01:34
2 minute read.
Black Hawk helicopter at Hatzerim base

Black Hawk, IAF Hatzerim base, explosion_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Fearing that Hezbollah and Syrian missile attacks will target its bases in a future war, the Israel Air Force has decided to establish a special battalion at all bases that will be responsible for ensuring operational continuity.

In recent years, the air force has dramatically increased the number of exercises it carries out to prepare the bases for missile attacks. At the Ramat David Air Force Base in the Jezreel Valley, for example, squadrons have conducted over 100 drills since the beginning of the year, an increase of close to 200 percent compared to the same period in 2010.

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Recently, IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan decided to establish a battalion that will be responsible for protecting each base, including making sure that runways damaged in bombings are quickly repaired and that air crews are able to rearm and refuel when landing in between sorties.

The IAF assessment is that Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas will direct their missile fire at air force bases during a future conflict in an effort to undermine the IAF’s ability to retaliate.

During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah tried to hit Ramat David, the air force’s largest base in the North, and during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Hamas fired rockets at bases in the South.

A senior IAF officer said this week that it was “critical, though, that we know how to continue operating despite [missile] attacks.”

Until now, the unit responsible for operational continuity was the Aviation Squadron, which provides services to the combat squadrons including management of the control tower and perimeter security around the base.

Some bases have invested in dispersing resources – such as fuel and munition depots – throughout the compound so that if one is hit, a second site will be available.

Nehushtan has designated “operational continuity” as one of the IAF’s primary objectives over the past year. The drills are sometimes held on a weekly basis, and pyrotechnics, such as fireworks, mock explosions and real fires, are used to make the scenarios as realistic as possible.

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