Israeli Army to Hold Largest Paratroop Drill in Years Amid Heightened Tensions in North

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Israeli paratroopers inside an airplane during the last major drill held in 2012.
Israeli paratroopers participating in the last major drill, held in 2012. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office

The army is preparing for the most extensive paratroop exercise in recent years, in light of tensions in the north. In the exercise, scheduled for mid-2018, all combat paratroopers in the Paratroop Brigade will be dropped, along with a large quantity of equipment. Combat troops from special units may also participate in the exercise.

The Paratroop Brigade has not held a major jump since 2012. The army decided on the upcoming exercise considering the assessment by security officials that Iran has resumed building a factory for precision weapons in Lebanon.

>> Israeli threats to strike Lebanon missile factory not intended to provoke war, but to distance it | Analysis >>

It is believed that the 2018 exercise will be much more extensive than the one in 2012. It is expected to involve night jumps in the south, where the troops will then conduct a drill of a takeover of an area. A military source involved in the preparations told Haaretz that aircraft will drop troops, heavy equipment and ammunition, as well as vehicles and food for the soldiers in the field during the exercise.

This is the first exercise in which the Israel Defense Forces will use a new parachute, manufactured by the U.S. firm Airborne Systems. The chute makes drops possible in different and more varied conditions than the parachute the army recently retired from use.

This will also be the first parachute drill using the Super Hercules, which went into service in the Israeli Air Force in 2014. The aircraft is designed to carry heavier payloads than the previous Hercules model, and to fly at lower altitudes. For example, the Super Hercules can carry 92 paratroopers and their equipment, or four military vehicles for special missions.

According to a senior officer expected to take part in the exercise, “We are preparing for circumstances in which combat will be conducted far from home, for a situation in which we’ll have to deal for quite some time with what we have in the field – food, water and even vehicles.”

Last week Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said with regard to the possibility of a flare-up in the north that in the next conflict in Lebanon, the IDF might have to send in troops for a ground maneuvers. “A maneuver is not a goal in itself,” Lieberman said at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “Nobody’s looking for adventures, but it it’s been forced on us, the goal is to end it as quickly and decisively as possible with a clear objective. What we’ve seen in all the conflicts in the Middle East [is], unfortunately, without soldiers on the ground it doesn’t end.”

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