Of all the special forces which take part in thwarting Hamas and Hezbollah to build up their capabilities, little if nothing has been written about the forces in the air who fly high above the fighters and assist them in operations which occur far outside of Israel’s borders – both on land and at sea.
The Israeli Air Force’s transmissions unit, which has been working with the IDF for decades – including during operation Entebbe – has upgraded its capabilities to an unprecedented scale; it can relay transmissions – both voice and video – from commanders in Israel to soldiers operating in any corner of the globe using the most secure transmissions software in the world.
No operation behind enemy lines outside of Israel’s borders is possible without the help of these transmissions planes.
The transmissions planes are manned by planes carrying small numbers of soldiers. The planes – which can be outfitted either for scouting mission as well – primarily fly out of Sde Dov airport, located north of Tel Aviv.
During the Shayetet 13 Special Forces raid on the KLOS C arms ship 1, 500 kilometers from Israel, one of these planes was in the air relaying live video feeds of the takeover of the ship directly to the highest officers of the IDF.
“We have special underground centers in Israel, ” said Lt. Col. Yaniv Namani, head of the Chief of Staff’s Telecommunications battalion, through which the unit operates.
“We know how to give a response anywhere, anytime – including sending live feeds of sensitive intelligence information to anyone, including the IDF chief of staff, minister of defense, and even the prime minister.”
“We also provide the ability for the different forces on the ground to communicate with the forward commanders, ” he continued. “These (operators) are soldiers of the highest caliber who were hand-picked, and underwent a four month long course. They also undergo a six month long parachute course. These are soldiers who know how to find and fix any communications problems during Israel’s most secret operations far outside of the Jewish state’s borders.”
During Operation Protective Edge, the planes were circling Gaza constantly, with one plane being replaced with another, constantly providing the soldiers on the ground an uninterrupted line of communication.
One of the transmissions officers is Sgt H.
“Because of us, the IDF chief of staff can be in constant, direct contact with the forces on the ground during an operation, thereby enabling us to hear every order which comes throughout an operation, ” H. explained. “If there is ever any break in the communications lines, we have to fix the problem immediately – otherwise the forces on the ground become, for all intents and purposes, deaf.”
H. added that there is a lot of pressure in her job. “There are times when there is so much pressure that everyone is yelling on the plane. We can’t let the soldiers on the ground be left “alone” in the field. Also, there are times when we are in the plane on a mission which lasts several hours.”