There has been a dramatic increase in the number of flights executed by Air Force Intelligence. According to military sources, since the beginning of the escalation in the security situation there were 8 times more surges than on normal days.
The role of Air Force Intelligence is to provide real-time information to the troops on the ground, and the recent increase in the number of its sorties has been the result of increased IDF activities in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan, and the wave of terrorist attacks across Israel. As the IDF has added four infantry battalions to the Samaria region alone, the level of alert in the Air Force and in Air Force Intelligence, according to assessments, is expected to continue to rise over the next few days.
“We are alert at every moment and in each sector more than we are in normal routine,” said Captain Daniel, deputy commander of the reconnaissance squadron, in an interview to the Air Force website. Captain Assaf, operator of an unmanned aircraft, said, “We usually have two or three emergency sorties in an entire week, but last week we had about four or five of them every day. In total there perform about eight times more of these flights than usual.”
Intelligence aircraft missions are designed to watch from above what happens on the ground, and provide an additional perspective, using the cameras installed in the aircraft to guide ground forces and to transmit information instantly.
Normally, the aircraft, some of which are unmanned, are engaged in daily intelligence gathering. At the same time, according to Air Force officials, it has happened more than once in recent days that during a routine intelligence gathering flight, the aircraft to would be rushed the scene of an attack in Israel: clashes, riots, disturbances in the Old City, or the pursuit of terrorists.
The Air Force has prepared for the increased activity, and, according to Captain Assaf, based on past experience, they’ve expected the series of events in recent weeks to lead to something greater, and therefore began to refresh the combat doctrines. “We emphasize to the teams that even if they are assigned one arena for information gathering, there’s always the possibility that they would be required to break the middle and switch to another task, for example in the event of a terrorist attack inside Israel or if there’s a crossing of the fence.”
Assaf noted: “Once we get to the scene we scan the surrounding area and look for suspicious movement. If we recognize, for example, that people are starting to run, then that’s where we’d direct the ground forces.”
Both squadrons are engaged in intelligence gathering activities with ground forces, as well as in accompanying forces on arrest missions inside the Palestinian Authority, to ensure that the area is safe activity and, if necessary, to chase after wanted individuals who are trying escaped.
In addition, Air Force Intelligence provides assistance in real time events, such as stabbing attacks, to which they are ordered immediately. “In such cases we are immediately called to the scene, join the forces that are in the field and provide real-time images of what’s happening on the ground,” said Captain Daniel.