This week, flight school cadets in the “Advanced” stage of the combat course, took part in a concluding exercise which made them face the reality of the operational activity. As a part of the exercise, they carried out flights and for the first time, used the flight simulator. “They can crash without endangering their lives and also learn a great lesson”
Shachar Zorani | Translation: Ofri Aharon & Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
A month from now, the 171st Flight Course cadets will stand on the parade ground and receive their long awaited flight wings. Although it may seem very soon, they still face a long way ahead of them, which includes training exercises, facing the committees and qualification flights.
The 171st Flight Course cadets in the combat course took part in a concluding training exercise in which they practiced air and ground combat scenarios. “This is in fact the first time that the cadets encounter combat atmosphere, as opposed to regular training sorties”, said Capt. Iftach, the “Advanced” stage instructor.
“The exercise simulates a situation that worsens as the days pass, it escalates as time passes. This exercise is the closest to real-time combat that they have experienced so far”.
Throughout the training exercise, the cadets practiced different ground and aerial missions. They took part in an “escape workshop” in which they were required to take cover in the base and “survive” until the rescue helicopter arrived.
They also practiced night sorties, tried to find pilots who “parachuted” in enemy territory and even executed a surprise landing in Ramon Airbase. “They are required to deal with hardships, unplanned events and fatigue”, explained Capt. Iftach.
“There is a feeling of complete uncertainty”, shared Bar, a cadet. “We woke up each morning expecting one thing and ended up doing something else altogether. There are nonstop unplanned events that you need to deal with”.
During the concluding training exercise, the cadets split into two groups and each group was asked to construct an attack formation in enemy territory while considering the changing arena and current threats. “It concludes every subject we covered”, said Bar. “We went to sleep wearing overalls and G-suits and woke up after being alerted for takeoff. We carried out a planning, interception and attack mission”.
For the first time: Integrating a tactical simulator into training
Since the integration of the M-346 into the IAF, there is an emphasis on grounded training in the “Advanced” stage of flight school. For the first time the cadets conducted a sortie in the tactical simulator alongside flying in the concluding flight school exercise. “The trainer simulates the operational arena and different threats without safety restrictions”, explained Captain Yiftach. “For example, two cadets can fly together and conduct “Dog Fights” at low heights and practice situations that closely simulate operational situations. They can crash without endangering their lives and also learn a great lesson”.
The “Advanced” stage cadets conducted 40 sorties in a simulator over a six month period. The grounded exercise allows the students to practice operational situations that simulate the real flight experience which constitutes of a quantum jump in terms of the cadets’ readiness. “In flight, simulators are more tangible than other forms of training and even more than training in air as there are no safety restrictions”, stated Capt. Yiftach. “The training helps the cadets understand the necessary readiness for flight. It’s an opportunity for them to conduct different activities, ranging from practicing flight in formation to operational situations”, stated Sgt. Amit Lacker, Simulation Instructor in the “Lavi” Training Center. “This is our first time using the simulator in such a wide scale manner and practicing operational flights with imagery and additional aircraft”.