IDF Sufa teams to revolutionize the battlefield

The first troops of the newly established Sufa teams of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) graduated from the officers’ course last week, opening up a new level of cooperation between the Israeli army’s air and ground forces.

The ten new officers are the first group of an innovative course to be established

The Sufa teams, which are under the IAF Cooperation Unit, were established as part of the IAF’s larger cooperation with ground forces.

The 5-member team, located within each combat infantry brigade, joins ground forces on the battlefield to provide fire support and coordination during combat.

The team includes a commander, an artillery corps officer responsible for ground fire, a Sufa officer who handles aerial fire, and three additional soldiers from the brigade who undergo additional command and control training.

IDF soldiers are seen participating in military exercises in northern Israel to simulate a war with Hezbollah. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

The Sufa officer acts as the man on the ground providing accurate and effective air support, while the artillery corps officer provides precise firepower from ground forces.

“It’s a small but very effective team,” said Major L, commander of the “Sufa” department in the IAF Cooperation Unit.

During training, cadets who came directly from the IAF elite pilot course receive the same basic training as infantry officers and learn how both the IAF and ground forces act during routine and emergency situations. Advanced training lasts four months at Unit 669 training school.

The next course will begin in March and will take place at the new 7th Wing Air Special Forces School, where they will learn alongside troops from the elite IAF Shaldag, 669 and frontal landing units.

By 2022 there will be a total of 18 Sufa teams integrated into infantry brigades.

Major L expects the unit to play an inseparable role in upcoming conflicts, whether in Gaza or on the northern border, as it is a key aspect for the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General. Aviv Kohavi’s Momentum plan, which focuses on maximizing operational capabilities with cross-branch operations and cooperation.

“They will participate not only in battle, but in operational firepower planning,” he said, adding that the way they approach the battlefield will be different due to the different challenges they face.

“Gaza is densely populated and the IDF prefers to use air power rather than have troops maneuver inside. But in Lebanon, the IDF knows that they will need troops to cross inside and the fighting will be much more complicated, especially due to the air defense systems in Lebanon and neighboring countries. “

Until a few years ago, ground forces requested air support using attack helicopters or fighter jets and took four hours to reach a target. But, with Sufa teams integrated into the infantry brigades, air support takes between 7 and 10 minutes.

“They have an arsenal of firepower and tools,” Major L said, adding that what has cut time is their ability to call in air support from a tablet while on the battlefield without the need for the green light from the usual military hierarchy.

It is a “revolution,” said Major L. Especially since division commanders have access to air power that includes heavy and precise munitions, anytime, anywhere on the battlefield.

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