F-16I Squadrons Take Off Together

The crews practiced outlines unique to the F-16I formation F-16I Squadrons Take Off Together

“It’s a good break from routine to fly with a navigator from a different squadron” F-16I Squadrons Take Off Together

For the first time, all F-16I squadrons of the IAF took off together It’s been almost a decade since the first F-16I airplanes arrived in Israel. For the first time this week, a joint training session took place with the pilots and navigators of the formation

Shir Golan

F-16I squadrons of all the IAF took off this week for a training session at Ramon Airbase. “Technicians worked together at the underground hangers, pilots and navigators of different bases were briefed together and even boarded other squadrons’ planes.

During the day, the units experienced new combat scenarios and worked on unique outlines specified to the F-16I formation–advanced air to air combat, attacking a missile stricken area, and a covert nighttime takeoff. “The F-16I formation may be new, but it has had to deal with a multitude of area and field developments”, explained Lieutenant Colonel A’, commander of the “First” Squadron, who lead the exercise. “All squadrons fly according to the same regulations and there is complete synchronization between us, we have to utilize our unison in order to move forward. This exercise allows the various squadrons to learn about and from each other. This allows us to develop other topics, abilities, and combat theories in a better way than one squadron could on its own”.

Swapping Partners: “You can’t sit in the same cockpit without knowing one another”

An outsider’s eye would have trouble spotting the differences between the various F-16I squadrons, but each has its own habits. What seems very obvious to one could be strange to the other. “When we took off together for the first time, each of us waited for the other to input the reference point”, says one aerial crew members with a smile. “In my squadron, the pilot takes care of that, but in his, it’s the navigator’s job”.

These challenges, it seems, are very common so it when airplanes, almost identical systems, security and rescue equipment, powered by all different people, face one another without any previous acquaintance. “You can’t just sit in the same cockpit without knowing each other first”, says First Lieutenant Tom of the “Orange Tail” Squadron”. “You have to break the ice and form a connection with the other squadron’s navigator”, he says. Major Amit sees it as an opportunity: “Flying with a different navigator breaks up our daily routine”, he says. “Although while sitting in the cockpit you have to be completely professional, on the ground between one take off to another, we have long conversations, listen to each other’s opinions, and that helps us reach new heights”.