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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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Sky Riders: the Eyes of Operation Brother’s Keeper

Lightweight drones assume critical role in search for missing boys
IDF soldier launches Skylark drone

IDF soldier launches Skylark drone
Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office

Aerial drones are enhancing Israel’s search for three kidnapped teens in Judea and Samaria, according to a report issued today by the IDF Spokesman’s Office.

The report said that soldiers in the IDF’s elite Skylark unit, nicknamed the “Sky Riders,” carry large bags of equipment. In seconds, troops can set up a hidden position, set up television monitors and begin assembling the light-weight drones. At just seven kilograms, the Skylark drones are small, efficient and practically unnoticeable in the air. Equipped with a live video feed, they can fly for up to three hours, at night and in all weather conditions without being detected.

Once the Skylarks are assembled, the forces attach them to elastic cords, pull them back and launch them forward like slingshots. As soldiers guide the aircraft using joysticks, cameras transmit images to the soldiers on the ground. The troops quickly interpret the video and send intelligence to soldiers in the field.

“Since the morning of June 13 [when the operation began], we have been assisting soldiers throughout Judea and Samaria,” says Captain Yochai Varsno, a company commander in the unit. “Our troops play a critical role in the ongoing mission, and we wouldn’t be able to carry out large parts of our operation without them.”

“Skylarks are some of the IDF’s most effective technology,” the IDF spokesman said in a statement. ‘Thanks to the precise intelligence they provide, Israel uses them in almost every major mission. The ongoing search for three kidnapped teens, called Operation Brother’s Keeper, is no exception.”

Enhancing the search for terrorists

Since the recent kidnapping in Judea and Samaria, the Skylark unit has provided valuable information to enhance the search for the three boys. As the drones capture images from above, soldiers on the ground develop a clear picture of terrorist activity and direct forces to suspects on the ground.

“We assist all the forces operating in the area,” Cpt. Varsno explains. “As soon as we identify [a target], we can notify the other forces. When they ask to see a house, we can show them the structure and any movement nearby.”

The main work of the soldiers in the operation is to assist with arrests. At night, the unit takes part in operational activity, enabling troops to arrest terrorists connected to the kidnapping.

“We are spreading our troops [throughout the region], attaching them to units that carry out arrests,” Cpt. Varsno says. “Our work makes sure that no terrorists can escape.”

About the Author: Meir is a news writer for JewishPress.com - and he loves his job.


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