What were an Italian, an American and an Israeli doing in a UAV car? This is not the beginning of a joke, but of a joint course held by the IAF. The UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle) School recently opened up its gates for Italian and American UAV operators who arrived at the “Palmachim” Airbase with the aim of familiarizing themselves with the Israeli UAV formation.

The two-week course included lessons and joint missions with the “Hermes 450” and “Hermes 900”. The foreign operators were exposed to the unique work methods of the IAF, a part of its combat doctrine and the division of roles in the mission car. The course is part of the IAF efforts to strengthen cooperation with overseas counterparts and positioning the school as an international center of knowledge for UAVs. This is not the first time foreign operators arrive at the UAV School, but it the first course that combines two foreign armies together – the Italian Air Force and the US Marine Corps. The international format will be held once a year and with additional foreign forces.

“The course objective is to share the UAV-related knowledge we have collected over the years with our military partners”, explains Major (Res.) Idan, Course Commander. “The participants are experienced operators who fly advanced platforms, and therefore we did not focus on new missions and training but rather on different ways to deal with our similar missions”.

Learning from the Differences

The foreign operators experienced the various work methods of their counterparts with the ultimate goal of applying relevant methods to their units. “We wanted to witness how other developing UAV communities around the world deal with their operational challenges”, explained Jonathan, a UAV operator of the US Marines Corps. “We wish to assimilate the knowledge and share it with our soldiers in the units. It is an excellent way to prepare for challenges we might face in the future”.

One of the most significant differences between the Israeli operation methods and the foreign ones is the amount of staff participating in action. While the Israeli mission car houses an operator and a mission commander (senior operator), the cars of Italian Air Force and American Marines holds at least three crew members. “For the same task, we would use three men and the IAF would use one”, says Captain Michael, a Marines UAV operator.

In addition, unlike the IAF, foreign formations use additional crew members outside the car during the mission. “The relatively small number of team members gives you significant flexibility in carrying out the mission, efficiency and cost saving”.