A Glimpse Into the IAF’s Unmanned Squadron

UAV operators recently completed training, and we join Second Lt. R on his first test flight with the Heron aircraft

After finishing the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operators’ course, the graduates are stationed at the various formations. Before becoming operational operators, they will control intelligence excursions and join missions of infantry units. We joined one of the graduating UAV operators, Second Lieutenant R, on his test flight with the ‘Heron’ aircraft.

Even though he completed the course just ten days ago, Lt. R has already exhibited his capabilities in the field. In the control car, he flawlessly goes through all the instructions and essential checks before taking off. On the computer screen in front of him, all types of Israeli maps are shown, each sketching out ground routes, sites of different incidents, weather conditions and a map of Israeli cities and communities.

After a successful takeoff, Lt. R controls the flight with a joystick–just like working a video game console, only that this is no game. Through the camera placed on the back of the UAV, you can follow the Heron aircraft’s every movement and activity and at the same time identify it on the computer screens. The importance of the UAV formations’ operation is becoming increasingly clear.