Combat Track Undergoes Changes Combat Track Undergoes Changes Combat Track Undergoes Changes The rigid structure of the combat track at the Aviation Academy has produced generations of pilots and navigators in the IAF, who took their first steps in the aerial arena in “Skyhawk” planes. Pilots cadets will soon stray from tradition, and begin a new journey

Lilach Gonen

Cadets in the advanced combat track at the Aviation Academy are a constantly renewing resource, as they become air crew members and make place for new cadets every cycle. Their environment, on the other hand, has not changed for many years: similar structures, long-standing wall murals and the same “Skyhawk” planes.

Despite the pull of tradition, it seems that the time has come for change: A new structure has recently been initiated into the combat formation, through which generations of combat navigators and pilots will fly. They will even be flying a new plane–in the year 2014, the Aviation Academy will receive the new instructional plane, the M-346. Arriving with it are flight simulators, including a tactical machine, which will allow the practice of structural flight that links a number of crews without stepping off the ground.

The arrival of the M-346, whose reception processes in the IAF have already begun, will catalyze many changes in the training of combat pilots and navigators. Even after receiving pilot wings, they will continue to fly the M-346 even in the operational training course, instead of Skyhawks and F-16A/Bs. Unlike the aforementioned, the Italian plane was structured for training purposes and not for combat battles, so it is expected to be an ambassador of superior training capabilities. It will allow training in missions like radar operation, usage of new weapon systems and flight with helmet navigation. “The new plane will allow us to deal with similar things that take place daily at combat squadrons”, explains Major Ohad, the pilot responsible for receiving the plane at the “Flying Tiger” squadron. “It’s a significant advantage–all combat pilots of the IAF will receive the exact same training”.