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THIS HERON drone is of a type recently featured in Northern Command drills aimed at improving responses to attempted infiltrations by terrorists..(Photo by: Wikimedia Commons)
Drone operators test responses to infiltrations
IDF conducting new drills.
The Israel Air Force has recently completed a series of drills aimed at improving the responses of drone operators to attempted hostile infiltrations of the country’s borders.

The drills factored in lessons learned from the deadly antitank missile attack launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon in January, which killed two IDF soldiers. They also included lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last year.

During the drills placed an emphasis on increasing operational cooperation between the air force and northern territorial brigades. While the Southern Command has established close coordination with the IAF throughout the course of three conflicts with Gazan terrorist groups in recent years, and many security escalations in between, the Northern Command has, with the exception of a few pinpoint exceptions, remained largely quiet since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

This has led to a lower level of air-ground cooperation compared to the South. During the drills, held in recent days, the IAF tested responses to infiltrations via attack tunnels, a bomb attack on the border, and the entry of terrorists on motorcycles, as well as indiscriminate shootings and projectile fire into Israel.

Drone operators piloting the Hermes 450 and Heron 1 UAVs took part, as well as pilots and scouts from the 100th Squadron, which carries out reconnaissance and surveillance missions on board Bonanza and Beechcraft King Air aircraft.

The IAF’s visual intelligence units practiced responses to incidents on the borders with Gaza, Sinai, Syria, and Lebanon, and tested responses to attempted kidnappings of soldiers, and attempted terrorist attacks inside civilian communities.

The drone operators had to thwart the infiltration and prevent casualties, by identifying the terrorists and directing the IDF’s firepower at the targets.

Ground units from the Northern Command’s brigades, as well as Southern Command territorial units, took part.

The IAF said after the exercise that the scenarios practiced could rapidly develop into real dangers that have no prior intelligence alerts.

“The central challenge in these incidents is to reach the center of the development on time, receive the existing information in a good way, and understand what has to be done during the incident,” said Lt. Gal, a drone operator who led the training program.

Lt. Itamar, a drone operator who took part in the exercises, as well as in last summer’s Gaza conflict, added, “Unlike many missions that have a clear battle doctrine and a lot of technical work, these incidents could develop into a wide range of unexpected developments, meaning that decision making becomes much more complicated.”
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