The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is set to declare operational capability for the Lavi Squadron.
Since July 2014, the squadron has taken delivery of nine M-346 aircraft from Alenia Aermacchi, which is under contract to deliver an eventual 30-strong fleet, as reported by Flightglobal.
Called ‘Lavi’ in the IAF service, the M-346 Master advanced / lead-in fighter trainer aircraft are scheduled to replace the service’s ageing TA-4 Skyhawk fleet.
The IAF pilots are already flying the aircraft from Hazerim air base that is located in the south of the country, while efforts are underway at a simulator centre to prepare the lessons for cadets that will be trained on the type.
The ground-based training system (GBTS) is developed by Elbit Systems in collaboration with Alenia, CAE and Selex. It includes two full mission simulators and two operational flight simulators, which can be linked together.
Israeli Air Force F-16I pilot major E was quoted by the publication as saying that the infrastructure offers an experience that is almost similar to the real flight.
He said: "Until now we demanded the cadets to perform 120 air missions as part of the training.
"From now on, they will be required to do only 100. The rest will be done in this very advanced simulator facility."
The IAF pilots and weapon systems operators are scheduled to undergo training ranging from basic familiarisation with the aircraft to the highest level of combat flight competence.
This is based on an innovative concept that will see a higher percentage of the syllabus being practiced using the GBTS, which will be visited by the trainees on a daily basis.
The Lavi trainers are fitted with an embedded virtual simulation system, which turns it into a combat aircraft laden with systems it actually does not carry, such as radar, missiles and electronic warfare systems.
Commenting on the trainer’s overall performance, major E said: "It has better manoeuvrability than the F-16A used now for training in the squadrons, and manoeuvres very smoothly, a fact that required the installation of a manoeuvring limit system that is pre-programmed and limits thegon the pilot."
Image: The first IAF M-346 advanced trainer jet during its roll out ceremony in Italy. Photo: courtesy of Israeli Air Force.