Israeli Air Force special forces school opens

The 7th Wing incorporates troops from 669, Shaldag, the Frontal Landing Unit and a dedicated intelligence unit.

IDF's picture of the year: Exercise by the IAF's Airborne Combat Rescue And Evacuation Unit 669 (photo credit: AMIT AGRONOV/ISRAEL AIR FORCE)
IDF's picture of the year: Exercise by the IAF's Airborne Combat Rescue And Evacuation Unit 669
(photo credit: AMIT AGRONOV/ISRAEL AIR FORCE)

Two years after the Israel Air Force established the 7th Wing for Special Forces, the corps opened the wing’s school for elite forces.

The ceremony took place on Sunday night at Tel Nof airbase and was attended by IAF Chief Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin, the commander of Wing 7 “Col. E” and the commander of the school “Lt.-Col. D.”

The school will give troops the ability to refine their operational focus, improve the level and quality of the troops’ training, allow them to solve problems through an indirect and creative lateral learning approach, and preserve the characteristics of each unit.

“In the coming years, the corps will complete its force building, infrastructure, and weapons. Our Special Forces will be an elite force and will take part in every mission and operation,” Norkin said at the ceremony.

The IAF’s Special Force’s Wing was set up in 2020 as part of a larger process in the IAF and is designed to address the core challenges of the air force and to find solutions to improve operational competence.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is seen with IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin. (credit: ARIEL HERMONI/DEFENSE MINISTRY)Defense Minister Benny Gantz is seen with IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin. (credit: ARIEL HERMONI/DEFENSE MINISTRY)

It was “established in light of operational needs and changing and growing threats in the various theaters,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit at the time, adding that it “will function as a complementary and a unique component to IAF activities through special depth, routine and emergency operations.”

The 7th Wing includes the air force’s special ground forces, Unit 669, the Shaldag commando unit, a dedicated intelligence unit and the Forward Landing Unit. They are expected to increase the operational effectiveness of the IAF.

The commander of the 7th Wing, “Col. A.” said that after decades in which troops from each unit trained separately, “we have the opportunity to align” the education of all special air force troops in a school that demonstrates the characteristics of the forces.

“Professionalism, responsibility, the realization of the vision, the partnership of destiny, flexibility and the ability to adapt – these are the qualities and values that institutionalize the new school,” he said.

“We are starting a new cycle today with the operational units, where the best fighters and commanders will train the future generation of troops in the units, a circle that relies on discourse and trust,” said the school’s commander, “Lt.-Col. O.”

“There is still a lot of work ahead of us and we will learn and improve day by day, thanks to the people who are trained to teach the fighters of the special air forces.”

The IAF’s elite Airborne Combat, Search and Rescue Unit 669 is one of the four Special Forces of the IDF with soldiers who are trained in combat medicine, parachuting, scuba diving, counter-terrorism, rappelling, rescue under harsh conditions and navigation. In the 40 years since the unit was formed, it has rescued more than 10,000 people across Israel and the world.

Shaldag, whose missions are kept confidential, is active during both routine times and times of conflict. It carries out covert, highly sensitive special operations. Its main goal is to allow the IAF to obtain intelligence from behind enemy lines and carry out commando operations relevant to the IAF.

The IAF’s Frontal Landing builds ad-hoc runways in the field for the “Karnaf” and “Shimshon” transport aircraft. It has taken part in various operations, including Operation Moses in the 1980s that saw the covert evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.