Flying in a Digital World

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

At the annual avionics conference, the Israeli Air Force’s Commander of the Avionics Branch explained the importance of new systems for today’s fighter pilots and challenges the corps is facing

Date: 03/03/2011, 2:29 PM     Author: Amnon Direktor

It turns out Israel is also internationally acclaimed in the field of Avionics. At Avionics 2011, a conference covering topics such as electronic systems for the air force and taking place at Ben Gurion University, new Israeli developments were presented. The IAF is an active player in the revolutions of this field.

The term avionics refers to electronic equipment on a plane such as systems dealing with aiming and ammunition, navigation, radars, communication and command and control. Today, unlike in the past, all IAF combat aircrafts are equipped with advanced avionics systems. The security industry in Israel is considered an international avionics powerhouse, creating systems for both the IAF and foreign armies.

Head of the Avionics and Command and Control Branch, Lt. Col. Aviram Etzba, presented the unit’s future challenges. He explained that the world of avionics in the IAF differs from that of the civilian world. Many IAF planes are old and the military’s Avionics Branch must continually develop systems to bring them up to date with the highest technological abilities.

“We are strengthening systems that have existed for 20 years and will continue to be in existence for another 20 years,” said Lt. Col. Etzba. “As such, we must accomplish challenging assignments with the existing technological platforms and simultaneously improve them with our own developments.”

As a result of advanced technologies in today’s fighter planes, pilots must have high cognitive abilities. The goal of the Avionics Branch is to facilitate the merging of various computer displays.

“If in the past physical abilities were key and cognitive abilities secondary in flying, today the two have flipped. The cognitive load and analysis the pilot must take on are much more complicated,” explained Lt. Col. Etzba. “Today a pilot must observe the situation around him via digital information displayed. Though these systems strengthen capabilities in a mission, it makes the mission more complex and the understanding of how to operate different.”

Those who’ve seen the cockpit of a plane, know it is lined with machines, systems and controls. The Avionics Branch is focusing today on combining the different systems to facilitate flying.

“We are heading toward a new era where all systems inside a plane are interconnected to create one presentation of the different sensory material,” explained Lt. Col. Etzba. “This is the goal of avionics – to morph the various information sources to coherent information that can help perform the mission in the best most efficient way possible. This is a very important conceptual and organizational change.”