Israel Air Force opens new Special Forces Wing

Wing "established in light of the operational need, changes, and expansion of threats in various arenas."

Israel Air Force opens new Special Forces Wing (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Israel Air Force opens new Special Forces Wing
The Israeli Air Force on Sunday opened a new Special Force Wing (Wing 7) that will include the Air Force’s special forces, Unit 669 and Shaldag as well as other units to increase the operational effectiveness of the IAF.
The opening ceremony took place at the Palmahim Air Force base in central Israel in the presence of IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and OC 7th Wing Col. O who in the past commanded over both Unit 669 and Shaldag.
The IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said the wing “was established in light of the operational need, changes, and expansion of threats in various arenas,” and that it “will be a complementary and unique component to the IAF’s operations through special operations behind enemy lines, during routine, and in times of emergency to carry out aerial missions.”
Israel Air Force opens new Special Forces Wing (Credit: IDF Spokesperson"s Unit)
The wing will also take part in the military’s “war-between-war” campaign against the Islamic Republic.
The IAF’s Special Force’s Wing “is designed to address the core challenges of the Air Force to solutions out of a belief in the importance of aerial superiority,” Col. O. said, adding that its goal is to “improve operational competence” and is “part of a larger process in the Air Force.”
“This special IAF wing 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, adding that it “was established as part of the IAF force design aimed to increase the operational effectiveness of the units” and “will function as a complementary and a unique component to IAF activities through special depth, routine and emergency operations.”
According to Col. O “there is a real desire to increase the effectiveness of the special forces” of the IAF, which has been looking at strengthening versus streamlining, explaining that “we have resources that, if we use more correctly, will be more effective.”
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in tensions between Israel and its enemies, on all fronts including Iran. As such, the IDF’s Momentum multi-year plan aims to improve the military’s operational effectiveness and lethality.
Acknowledging the economic crisis that has followed the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to last for the near future, Col. O. said the changes in the operational reality including the technological improvements made by the enemy, have made it necessary to “do all the streamlining without additional resources.”
The military believes that there is a significant operational need in the IAF for the new Special Forces Wing, which will allow for high-quality and close operational cooperation between the special units and extensive learning to enhance their capabilities by bringing about synergy, synchronization, and optimization of the special forces units. The effectiveness of the units will be improved by adapting combat methods, weapons and will expand the cooperation between the IAF, the IDF, and the defense establishment.
The troops serving in these operational units will integrate into positions at the operational headquarters and the IAF's instructions headquarters.
“The Air Force aspires for constant renewal and improvement,” the military said, adding that “the timing of the wing's opening, during a new multi-year program, creates an opportunity to enable profound changes and to deal with various challenges in a constantly changing reality.”
According to Norkin, following a long and in-depth work to build the Wing “which underlies operational vision and at the end of the process - there is an enhanced capability that will make our special forces more effective during combat, more influential in terms of air superiority, and part of any process or scenario that takes place in the IAF.”
"We are already in the era of regional change, a pandemic and a battlefield that is becoming more complex every day,” said Norkin. “This change has been understood by the commanders. This is the change that requires us to adapt ourselves and to prepare better for future challenges. Today we move forward to a new chapter in the history of the SAF. We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors who dared and acted- and now we are the ones leading.”
Headed by Col. O, the wing under the command of Norkin will incorporate various units including Shaldag, Unit 669, a front landing forces unit, a dedicated intelligence unit as well as a training school for troops. It will be based out of the Palmahim Air Base.
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 over 10,000 people across Israel and the world.
Shaldag, whose missions are kept confidential, is active during both routine times and times of conflict, 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 (FLU) 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 which saw the covert evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.