IAF ramps up drills against missile attack

“This is major threat, we need to know how to continue operating in event that missiles are fired at our bases,” a senior IAF officer explains.

IAF plane on runway 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
IAF plane on runway 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The air force has dramatically increased the number of exercises it carries out to prepare its bases for missile attacks and to ensure the ability to continue operations during a war.
At the Ramat David Air Force Base in the Jezreel Valley, for example, squadrons have conducted almost 100 drills since the beginning of the year, an increase of close to 200 percent in comparison to the same period in 2010.
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“This is a major threat and we need to know how to continue operating in the event that missiles are fired at our bases,” a senior IAF officer explained recently.
The increase in drills is taking place throughout all of the IAF’s bases due to assessments that Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza will use missiles to target IAF bases in a future conflict.
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 air force bases in the South.
IAF sources said that bases will be expected to operate even when under missile attack. A recent study conducted by the Air Directorate concluded that bases will be targeted during a future conflict and that the missile attacks could lead to a slight delay in the IAF’s ability to carry out operations.
Some bases have invested in dispersing resources throughout the base so that if one is hit a second site will be available.
“Redundancy is extremely important since we cannot take a chance that if a depot is hit we will not have an additional storage center,” the IAF officer said.
The drills are sometimes carried out on a weekly basis and IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan has designated “operational continuity” as one of the force’s primary objectives for the coming year. They vary and sometimes include the entire base and other times specific units. Pyrotechnics, such as fireworks, mock explosions and real fires, are used to make the scenarios as realistic as possible.
“Soldiers need to know that this is a real threat that could happen and we have to be prepared to continue operating even if missiles are hitting around us,” the officer said.