The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has upgraded M-346 'Lavi' advanced trainer aircraft capabilities with the addition of external fuel tanks and live ammunition in order to prepare young pilots and weapon systems operators.
The M-346 has also been equipped with an updated programme block that will enable the aircraft to carry training munition and detachable fuel tanks.
The upgradation was followed by a series of tests conducted by the IAF's Flight Test Squadron.
As part of the tests, the squadron's test pilots and engineers evaluated the factors influencing the aircraft's behaviour.
The squadron also tested the difficulty level of the aircraft's operation in complex scenarios such as air-to-air combat and attack manoeuvres.
Flight Test Squadron head test pilot lieutenant colonel Rotem said: "Alongside its upgraded avionics, the aircraft is so advanced that all of its functions are computer-based. Its programme block also deals with its avionics and steering systems, which means that in order to develop a new flight configuration or equip the 'Lavi' with external loads, an update to the aircraft's programme block was necessary.
"We later flew the upgraded aircraft, shared the information with the relevant factors, and released a debrief in order to enable the flight academy to operate the aircraft with the latest block."
The upgraded 'Lavi' can now carry BDU-33 training bombs and detachable fuel tanks to prolong its flight time.
Using external fuel tanks, the aircraft will be able to fly for prolonged periods of time while trainees rotate, and many flights will be spared.
Additionally, the aircraft is now capable of releasing virtual bombs.
Image: The upgradation was followed by a series of tests conducted by the IAF's Flight Test Squadron. Photo: courtesy of the Flight Test Squadron.