The Israeli Air Force (IAF) marked the conclusion of training for its latest class of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operators in a graduation ceremony last Wednesday (August 15). Dozens of officers officially joined the ranks of the UAV Formation, following the conclusion of the 20th UAV training course. With hundreds of family members in attendance, the festive atmosphere was further enhanced by the arrival of IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel.
“Today is a festive day for the IAF and the IDF and – I will allow myself to go one step further – for the entire state of Israel,” the Air Force chief began. “Our air force, the IAF – particularly the [UAV Formation] – is a pioneering air force by international standards. We never dreamt of the achievements [the UAV Formation] has managed to reach; it is a dream come true each and every day.”
“The accomplishments of the UAV Formation deserve mention and credit both for the way they were carried out and for the end result,” he declared. “Accordingly, our expectations [from the graduates] are in the sky, in both senses.”
The UAV Formation was formed in 1969, for intelligence-gathering purposes. Since then, it has become one of the world’s most developed and sophisticated units of its type, in part due to several countries’ skepticism regarding such technology, especially in its early years. Recently it has been in the headlines, as it thwarted a large-scale terrorist infiltration along the Egypt-Israel border.
“The UAV Formation has a record of achievements without precedent and without parallel anywhere in the world,” he added. “Things that in the past we could only dream about, we accomplish here every day. It is an extraordinary honor to follow this path and to protect the State. The more you progress, the greater your responsibility.”
The ceremony followed eight months of training, in which the cadets acquired extensive knowledge related to intelligence, operational skills, and analysis of combat operations.
Prior to the ceremony, Lt. Col. Daniel, commander of the UAV Academy, met with the parents of the new graduating officers, where he elaborated on the central role of the UAV operators.
“As UAV operators work day and night, your children will be part of a group that undertakes operational activities around the clock,” he told the proud parents. “From now on, the responsibility that lies on the shoulders of the new technological combatants is tremendous; they will be the ones determining [the outcome of] our next war. The operators are an integral part of the security of the state of Israel and need to be sharp and prepared 24/7.”