Special Force Wing (Wing 7)
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) opened a new Special Force Wing (Wing 7) that will include the Air Force’s special forces, Unit 669 and Shaldag as well as other units to increase the operational effectiveness of the IAF. The opening ceremony took place at the Palmahim Air Force base in central Israel. The new wing was established in light of the operational need, changes, and expansion of threats in various arenas and that it will be a complementary and unique component to the IAF’s operations through special operations behind enemy lines, during routine, and in times of emergency to carry out aerial missions.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in tensions between Israel and its enemies, on all fronts including Iran. As such, the Israeli Defense Force’s Momentum multi-year plan aims to improve the military’s operational effectiveness and lethality. Acknowledging the economic crisis that has followed the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to last for the near future. The changes in the operational reality including the technological improvements made by the enemy, have made it necessary to do all the streamlining without additional resources.
A special ceremony was held at Palmachim Air Force base in central Israel. “We are moving now to the new era in the history of the Aerial Special Forces Wing — we are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors, who were courageous and took action — and now we are leading the way,” IAF chief Amikam Norkin said during the ceremony. The new Special Force Wing 7 will incorporate various units including Shaldag, Unit 669, a front landing forces unit, a dedicated intelligence unit as well as a training school for troops. It will be based out of the Palmahim Air Base. The troops serving in these operational units will integrate into positions at the operational headquarters and the IAF's instructions headquarters. The IAF’s Frontal Landing (FLU) builds ad-hoc runways in the field for the “Karnaf” and “Shimshon” transport aircraft. It has taken part in various operations, including Operation Moses in the 1980s which saw the covert evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.
“The wing was formed as part of an overall process of strengthening as well as streamlining and improving operational effectiveness of the units,” the IDF said in a statement. “The timing of the opening of the wing, during the new multi-year plan, represents an opportunity to make deep changes and to deal with new challenges in a changing reality”. The new 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing will combine the air force’s elite search-and-rescue Unit 669; the Shaldag commando unit; the Frontal Landing Unit, which builds ad hoc landing strips behind enemy lines; a dedicated intelligence unit for the wing; and a special forces school.
The IAF’s elite Airborne Combat, Search and Rescue Unit 669 is one of the four special forces of the IDF with soldiers who are trained in combat medicine, parachuting, scuba diving, counter-terrorism, rappelling, rescue under harsh conditions, and navigation. In the 40 years since the unit was formed, it has rescued over 10,000 people across Israel and the world. Shaldag, whose missions are kept confidential, is active during both routine times and times of conflict, carries out covert, highly sensitive special operations. Its main goal is to allow the IAF to obtain intelligence from behind enemy lines and carry out commando operations relevant to the IAF.