> our title:

Insights into Israeli Air Force Heron TP Training

> original title:

RPAV Northern Theatre Training

(Source: Israeli Air Force; issued Feb 26, 2019)

Last week, the 210th ("White Eagle") Squadron, which operates "Eitan" (Heron TP) RPAVs (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicles), drilled intensive warfare in the northern theatre. As part of the training day, the squadron's service members faced various scenarios in uncertain conditions.

"The RPAV Division has several designated training days per year", explained 2nd Lt. Y', an RPAV operator at the 210th Squadron and the squadron's training day leader. "The squadron chooses a topic and plans the training accordingly – the latest training day saw us place an emphasis on combat in the northern theatre, with an added emphasis on SAM (Surface-to-air-Missile) destruction".

"Most of our missions are performed in the northern theatre", added Lt. Col. S', Commander of the 210th Squadron. "Some of the force's manned squadrons have capabilities similar to ours, but unlike them, we are able to fly in life-threatening areas. We may not be able to look out the window and see what's going on, but we're able to make up for the discrepancy".

Significant Advantages

In order to understand the training day's importance, one has to learn about the "Eitan" RPAV and its activity in the northern theatre. The "Eitan" is the largest RPAV utilized by the air force, with a wingspan of 26 meters, and has the ability to operate in faraway places. "The 'Eitan' has the ability to move between several types of missions quickly and efficiently, which provides it with a significant advantage. We perform missions in a wide variety of theatres", said Lt. Col. S'.

The RPAV Division's main missions are reconnaissance and intelligence collection. The operators sit in their control stations and pilot RPAVs over enemy bases, searching for terrorists and training camps, all while gathering intelligence for future IAF strikes.

Facing Operational Dilemmas

"As part of the exercise, we simulated a situation wherein we controllers were unavailable and the operators weren't provided with all the information they needed. We wanted to see full independence in the field", elaborated 2nd Lt. Y'. "We faced the operators with dilemmas in order to see how they would handle them. Such things require that they be knowledgeable regarding the content at hand".

During the exercise, the operators drilled complex operational scenarios which required that they be quick and agile in their decision-making. "One scenario saw us relay info to the operators regarding SAMs located in a certain village. We told them that there were several suspicious points which had to be detected. Furthermore, we drilled situations which made the crews realize that they had to take initiative and do things they weren't originally supposed to do for themselves", said 2nd Lt. Y'. "We want to keep having exercises of this sort – they're beneficial for the squadron and the entire division".