The Israeli Air Force’s 122nd (“Nachson”) Squadron received the first ‘Oron’ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft based on the Gulfstream G550 jet aircraft.
The 122nd Squadron, known as the IAF’s ISR squadron, already operates two similar models, the “Shavit” (Gulfstream G500) and “Eitam” (Gulfstream G550).
On Sunday, the squadron welcomed what will be the newest member of the Nachshon family. Oron combines several capabilities including aerial imaging, control and radar, and maritime intelligence gathering for the navy.
“The majority of these capabilities already exist in our squadron and the ‘Maof Rahav’ unit, however, with the new aircraft, we managed to condense them all onto a single flight platform,” Maj. I, Deputy Commander of the 122nd Squadron, said.
IAF explained that while the Oron looks similar to the Eitam, its systems are more advanced and allow for a wider range of missions.
“The big improvement is in its overall capabilities and diversity of the tasks it can perform,” says Maj. I.
“The aircraft combines the capabilities of the Eitam and the Shavit reconnaissance aircraft from the fighter division, and advanced air-to-surface radar. The plane is not only significant to the squadron and the IAF, but is an important asset to the entire IDF: it will conduct ISR missions for the navy using unique systems, all in cooperation with the IDF Intelligence Directorate and the ‘Maof Rahav’ unit. This is a plane that accommodates all three branches of the Israeli military.”
As stated by Maj. I, the Oron can stay airborne for extended periods, fly further than other reconnaissance aircraft, and hold a larger crew on board. “The plane is also capable of carrying intelligence personnel who analyze data in real-time. This enables the crew to be independent and return from a mission with a fully complete result.”
Israel started work on the new aircraft with Gulfstream Aerospace some nine years ago. Before it was delivered, an IAF crew flew to the US to pilot the aircraft and ensure it met IDF requirements before it landed in Israel. Over the next two years, the plane will undergo a mission systems installation process, and then arrive at the squadron as an operational aircraft.
“We must operationally familiarize ourselves with the aircraft. Its basic flight mechanics are similar to those of the G550 but it contains different systems. Therefore, we need to adjust our flight technique for the various missions. Additionally, we will need to construct tactics and doctrine for the new aircraft,” Maj. I continued.