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NTIL A FEW years ago
the Israeli Air Force flight
training fleet was based
around aircraft of primarily
1950s and 1960s vintage: the
Piper Super Cub was used
in the screening phase, the Fouga Magister
(Tzukit) for basic training, and the A-4
Skyhawk (Ahit) in the advanced phase.
With the arrival of new platforms such as
the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in
the early 1980s, a large gap emerged between
the trainers and the front-line fighters. Young
pilots thus came out of flight school with
a shortfall in their level of training. This
resulted in a heavy burden for the front-line
squadrons, which had to perform additional
basic training to familiarize new pilots with
the advanced fighters.
In the light of this, the Israeli Air Force
decided to revamp its training fleet. The first
step was the replacement of the veteran Piper
with the Grob G120 (Snunit) in 2002, after
which the Magister was supplanted by the
state-of-the-art Beechcraft T-6 Texan II (Efroni)
in 2010.
The third phase was to replace the A-4.
At the beginning of 2012, after three years
spent evaluating two contenders — the
Italian M-346 and the Korean Aerospace
Industries (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle — Israel
elected to purchase the Italian trainer. The
main parameters of the evaluation were the
training and instruction aids on board the
aircraft, flight safety aids, debriefing aids,
and the efficient integration of simulators.

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78-91 Lavi C.indd 78

While the T-50 closely resembles the F-16,
the M-346 appears to provide a mix of F-16,
F-15 and Typhoon qualities, and was judged
to better suit Israeli requirements. With two
engines, the Master also has an important
safety advantage over the T-50. The evaluation
concluded that both were capable trainers
but that the Italian design was a better fit to
particular Israeli Air Force needs, including
preparations for the service’s future fighter,
the F-35 Lightning II (Adir).
To date the Israeli Air Force has received
eight from a total of 30 M-346s purchased.
The Lavi will soon replace the A-4 in the
advanced training phase of the flying course
and will succeed the A-4 and F-16A/B Netz
in the subsequent Operational Training Unit
(OTU) and Advanced OTU (AOTU) phases.
The Lavi brings many innovations that are
set to overhaul the training of fighter pilots
and navigators in the Israeli Air Force. It
includes advanced avionics systems that
allow the addition of new subjects to the
flight course syllabus. These include radar,
electronic warfare, and advanced weapons,
such as air-to-air missiles combined with the
use of the Elbit Systems Display and Sight
Helmet (DASH).
Unlike the A-4, the Lavi was designed
from the outset for training, and incorporates
various measures to improve its efficiency
in the role. The instructor in the back has an
excellent field of view over the front seat,
while all the front-seat actions appear on the
back-seater’s instrument panel. Flying the
Lavi is much easier than the A-4, thanks to its

With the arrival
of the first pair of
Alenia Aermacchi
M-346 Master jet
trainers (named
Lavi in Israeli
service) on July
9, 2014, the final
phase in the
renewal of the
Israeli Air Force’s
training fleet began.

Lavis await takeoff clearance at
the end of the
Hatzerim runway,
which they share
with resident T-6
Efroni trainers.

May 2015 www.combataircraft.net

20/03/2015 11:25

indd 79 79 19/03/2015 10:36 .report and photos: Ofer Zidon www.net May 2015 78-91 Lavi C.combataircraft.

the Lavi will have no combat assignments. so training will continue as planned during alerts and times of tension. An advanced simulator will increase the number of simulator sorties from 60 to 180 for each cadet. This was designed and manufactured by Israel’s Elbit Systems and includes a range of simulators that are set to render the training program more efficient 80 78-91 Lavi C.indd 80 May 2015 www. The Lavi has a datalink that allows an online connection between airborne aircraft and ground simulators. One of the highlights of the new type is the training package acquired together with the airframes. allowing for improved preparations and increasing the efficiency of real aerial sorties.net 19/03/2015 10:36 . ground threats or targets and so on) that appear on the aircraft’s displays. Unlike its predecessor. to enable advanced training scenarios including formation flying or 2-v-2 dogfighting.fly-by-wire system and the ‘carefree handling’ system that provides the cadets with an inflight safety envelope. Its avionics also allow for the creation of two additional synthetic entities (aircraft.combataircraft. the A-4.

Skill-Based Training (SBT) is the second tier. A Lavi leaves the line on its way to begin another sortie.This image: A Lavi is prepared for a training mission. meaning students can learn about and then train in tactical subjects including ground attack. It includes two 330-degree screen simulators that provide a full cockpit view and thus permit the training of advanced www.indd 81 subjects such as formation flying. It includes interactive computer-based lessons to permit selflearning of the aircraft’s systems and procedures. Involved are five simple simulators based on regular desktop computer screens.net May 2015 78-91 Lavi C. They are also connected to airborne aircraft via the aforementioned datalink to simulate more complicated scenarios and missions. The new aircraft and simulators will enhance Israeli Air Force cadet training and improve readiness once students come to join front-line squadrons. compared to today’s 14-month period. Above left to right: The SkillBased Training (SBT) simulator looks like a regular home computer simulator. The Lavi will mean that new pilots will become operationally qualified after only six months in their front-line squadrons.combataircraft. as well as flying in low visibility and bad weather. The first Lavi-based flight course to be conducted as part of the advanced training phase started in January 2015. pairs dogfights. 102 ‘Flying Tigers’ Squadron at Hatzerim air base. These allow students to learn and train basic and emergency procedures in the Lavi. The Israeli Air Force has already begun preparations for establishing the first Lavi unit. The aircraft are currently operating alongside the aircraft they are succeeding. the A-4 Ahits of 102 ‘Flying Tigers’ Squadron — Israel’s last Skyhawk operator. It takes in two 220-degree screen simulators. The first tier is known as Computer-Based Training (CBT). The simulators are connected to allow the synchronized training of four aircraft in a single mission. The third tier is called Operational Flight Simulator (OFS). and improve the learning curve for new cadets. The final tier is the Full-Mission Simulator (FMS). advanced weapons. simple dogfights and more. 81 19/03/2015 10:37 . Right: Take-off procedure is practiced using the Operational Flight Simulator (OFS). and so forth.