February 13, 2012 Bamahane Magazine / IDF - defpro.com
"Sky Rider" unit implements technological upgrades and assigns more high-ranking officers for better army-wide cooperation
The "Sky Rider" unit, the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) elite unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operating force, is implementing a series of changes and upgrades, including assigning a squad to every active battalion in the IDF. Among the changes is an increase in the length of the course required for the unit from 8 months to a year, where the 4 additional months will include collaborative training with other battalions.
In March, graduating officers joining the unit will begin their own training course specific to the unit, as opposed to simply joining the combat officers' course.
Several of the soldier and commanders will be promoted to officers, strengthening the unit's presence in the field.
"The decision to assign officers will drastically improve the quality of command," said unit commander, Col. Uri Gonen. "The training an officer goes through is much longer than that of regular soldiers, and it includes making better, army-wide connections with the various units. For a unit that cooperates so frequently with other units, its commander should be at home in any unit, from armor to infantry, so that they can effectively manage the dialogue and collaboration between units."
Within the next year, the unit expects to receive a new version of their trademark UAV, the "Skylark," from the Elbit Company. The new version will provide improvements of the UAV's communication tools, operational range, and the ability to fly several planes simultaneously. The new version will pass operational trials within the next year and in November soldiers will begin training and implementing the new model.