Air Force Commander: Squadron is "a partner in assuring the security of [Israel's] security in distant seas"
The IAF marked 25 years since the establishment of its Maritime Helicopters Squadron in a ceremony held last week at the Ramat David airbase. Participants in the ceremony included IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, Head of the Navy's Maritime Operations Division Brig. Gen. Oded Gur-Lavi, and past and present members of the Squadron.
The IAF Commander addressed the ceremony, saying, "From a vision and an idea was born a small and focused squadron, expert in its missions. And with the growth of the Navy's missions, the Squadron was integrated into more important activity, and it became a partner in assuring the security of the state – [acting] in distant seas, in the gathering of intelligence, in the thwarting of terror attacks, and in strengthening measures," he said.
"The present moment is tumultuous. We don't know what tomorrow will bring; this is the time to increase our preparedness and guardedness, to expedite our steps in the campaign between the wars, to strengthen our cooperation in the routine and to establish a foundation for cooperative combat," he added. "It is necessary and possible for us to realize integration between water and air [forces] in new realms. This is a joint test of will, and good people will lead us to success in it."
Maritime Helicopters Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Roni also discussed the Squadron's progress. "The Squadron continues to advance and to develop, and recently we received a new radar, which enables us to find more targets and targets at longer distances," he said. Regarding cooperation between the Navy and the Air Force, he added, "The cooperation is the fruit of many years of effort, and today we are a model of integration for the entire IDF. We will continue to carry out our missions shoulder to shoulder, side by side, with dedication and with the familial atmosphere that characterizes us."
"The helicopter's full integration with ships and their cooperation for the success of the mission in routine situations and in battle turn the Maritime Helicopters Squadron and the Navy's detachment into an organic unit," said the Head of the Navy's Maritime Operations Division, adding that the Squadron knows how to translate between the languages of the Navy and the Air Force. "[The Squadron] is one of the largest elements of the IDF's strength, and it proves this in [its] every operation and task, whether near or far."
The Maritime Helicopters Squadron was established in August 1987 at the Palmachim airbase, when it was decided to purchase a helicopter for the Navy to be used for marine missions like rescue, spotting, and pinpointing targets at sea. The Squadron's first helicopter was a Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin, which it received from the Rolling Sword Squadron. Since then, the Squadron has undergone a number of its changes, including its closure and subsequent reopening at the Ramat David airbase. It is now equipped with the Eurocopter AS565 Panther.