A maritime observation jet. The Seascan, which has been used by the IAF since 1978, is a specialized version of the IAI's Westwind business plane, developed in the 1970's.
The IAI decided to develop the plane after the terror attack at the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv in March 1975, in which eight terrorists had reached the shore in a rubber dinghy, without being spotted. The plane can detect targets at long ranges, even over rough seas.
The Seascan has two bubble windows on either side of the fuselage, which enable final, visual identification of a target. The Shahaf planes are operated by the IAF, but it is the Israeli Navy that decides when and where to employ them. The Seascan has a crew complement of seven: a pilot, a copilot and a navigator from the Air Force, and a mission commander and three more men from the Navy. The mission commander is an officer who completed the Ship Captains Course or the Command Course in the Navy.
A maritime reconnaissance flight by the Seascan usually lasts several hours. Since their entry into service, the Seascans have assisted in the capture of terrorist boats and in the prevention of planned terror attacks. The planes were also involved in rescues of civilian vessels in distress on high seas, and in reporting ships that were polluting the waters.