A year after its launch, the project to recruit ultra-Orthodox soldiers to various positions within the Air Force is a success.
Ynet has learned that in internal polling conducted by the IAF's manpower branch, headed by Brig. Gen. Rami Ben-Efraim, the ultra-Orthodox servicemen 'won out' amongst the various sectors on two vital questions – willingness to stay in the service and willingness to become officers.
More than half – 53% - of haredi servicemen responded positively when asked whether they would consider staying in the Air Force. The percentage is higher than those recorded in eight other projects being run by the IAF.
The Air Force is used to seeing between two to four soldiers out of 10 expressing an interest in becoming officers. But amongst the ultra-Orthodox the figure went up to six out of every 10.
Thanks to the project one haredi serviceman has already become an officer, and a second is in the process of doing so.
"There's no doubt that the data indicates immense satisfaction on the part of haredim in the service, they are motivated and they want to be here. We're planning on expanding (their numbers)," a senior officer told Ynet.
The project was conceived during the command of former IAF chief, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy, and sought to bring in sectors that had previously never served in the IDF.
There was considerable doubt that the project would succeed, but within the course of one year 200 haredim joined the IAF's ranks.
The target candidates for the project are of an average age of 24, men who are married and who already have one or two children.
They undergo special training courses in mathematics, English and computers, as well as a brief basic training course. From there they move on to intensive specialty courses.
The recruits are assigned to the Air Force's various headquarters, which can provide easier service conditions that allow the servicemen to return home every evening.
They receive a starting salary of NIS 3,000 (USD $754).
"They connect with us on values, they understand that they are contributing here and that they're part of the operation," the senior officer said, adding that the notion of an ultra-Orthodox pilot no longer seemed far fetched.