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Light Transport Moves Ahead Release date 06.01.2019
Last week, Sde-Dov AFB's two light transport squadrons were unified ahead of their relocation to Hatzor AFB in six months. As part of the historic shift, the 135th Squadron's combatants and aircraft were integrated into the 100th Squadron, the IAF's first squadron
Illy Pe'ery | Photography: Koral Dvir

Last week, Sde-Dov AFB's two light transport squadrons were unified ahead of their relocation to Hatzor AFB in six months following the closure of Sde-Dov. As part of the historic shift, the 135th Squadron's combatants and aircraft were integrated into the newly reestablished 100th Squadron, the IAF's first squadron.


Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

The unified squadron, due to be one of the air force's largest, will act as an intelligence squadron with a goal of 5,000 flight hours per year. The squadron will continue to utilize the "Tzofit" and "Hofit" aircraft while integrating the 135th Squadron's combatants and aircraft. Some of the "Kukiya" aircraft's missions will be relegated to the "Eitan" (Heron TP) RPAV (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle).

"Just several hours ago, the 135th Squadron folded its flag ahead of its unification with the 100th Squadron. The act holds within it the many varied security-related scenarios that the squadron has been a part of", said Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, the Commander of the IAF. "It's only appropriate that the squadron is paired up with the IAF's first squadron, the 100th Squadron. The squadrons will be unified, and in six months Sde-Dov AFB will be relocated to Hatzor – a difficult relocation, both emotionally and professionally. It isn't easy leaving the place where the IAF's first aircraft took off, where its first soldiers were killed. The goal is appropriate; the standard is the air force's standard".

 


Photography: Koral Dvir

Expanding the Scope
For a whole year, the 135th Squadron's service members prepared for unification with the 100th Squadron: from division of labor, through developing infrastructure and to training of the squadrons' aircrew members. "Everything began in May of 1974, when the 135th Squadron was established following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Back then, its goal was performing military transport missions at any time and in any condition", said Lt. Col. A', the leaving commander of the 135th Squadron, who is due to serve as the 100th Squadron's new commander. "The squadron has changed over the years – integrating new aircraft, expanding the scope of its operational activity and becoming a varied, effective military intelligence force working around the clock in order to protect Israel".


Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

The shift from transport to intelligence began in the mid-80s with the integration of the "Kukiya" reconnaissance aircraft. "There aren't many technological platforms such as the 'Kukiya', capable of maintaining operational relevance and reaching achievements most of which remain clandestine to this day", said Brig. Gen. A', a unit commander in the Military Intelligence Directorate. "The division provided the IDF and Israel's security forces with extraordinary value, saving human lives and escorting complex operational missions in any theatre and at any time".

"The 135th Squadron turned the 'Kukiya' array into a central component in the prevention of terrorist attacks and maintenance of Israel's superiority in the field of military intelligence", added Brig. Gen. A'. "As the unit's commander, I found myself scrambling the 'Kukiya' aircraft during both routine and emergency situations in order to help save lives".


Photography: Koral Dvir

The 100th Squadron was established as part of the IAF's predecessor, the Sherut Avir, and became the Israeli Air Force's first squadron upon the establishment of the state of Israel. The squadron is considered the most decorated squadron in the air force, having been awarded 13 commendations in wars and operations throughout the years. From the 1948 War of Independence and until today, the squadron has participated in each one of Israel's wars and taken part in countless operations, some revealed to the public and most of them clandestine. Throughout its existence, the squadron operated 13 different types of aircraft and contributed to combat by way of reconnaissance and close cooperation with the ground forces. Today, the squadron said farewell to 35 veteran combatants and welcomed dozens of new aircrew members from the 135th Squadron, thus integrating new goals as part of a widescale organizational transformation.


Photography: Koral Dvir

"For 44 years, the two squadrons operated in the airbase side by side", said the commander of the 100th Squadron. "Today we join forces while the returning members of the technical department join our ranks. In just several minutes, the 'Flying Camel' will grow threefold. The new emblem will be placed on the aircraft, loyal to the two squadrons' long legacy. This unification is a one-time opportunity to make the best of – to establish a stronger, more powerful squadron and take off to new heights".