The oldest fighters in the IAF, the F-16 A/B “Netz” (Hebrew for Hawk) and the Skyhawk A-4 “A’it” (Hebrew for Eagle), met this week for a clash of the Titans. While one took part in Operation “Opera” (The destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor) the other took part in almost every one of Israel’s wars. Who will win?
The “Netz” (F-16 A/B) and the “A’it” (Skyhawk) fighters have known each other a while: they have served side-by-side in the IAF for almost 25 years, fighting and training together. But with the passing generations, these “war horses” cleared the stage for younger fighter jets and currently their main purpose is to educate future generations of combat pilots.
This week, this duo of giants met again in the skies above the Negev desert, in a joint training exercise of the advanced operational training course of the Combat Division. The “Defenders of the South” squadron, which operates the F-16A/B planes, practiced aerial combat with the “Flying Tiger” squadron which operates the Skyhawk planes.”The goal of this week is to become familiar with the maneuvers of the two planes”, explains First Lieutenant Ben from the “Flying Tiger” squadron. “We don’t know the ‘Netz’ and it is a plane that is more advanced than our own. But they also learn about our level of operation with the ‘A’it’, with which we have gained much experience”.
I Know You
Like the two airplanes, the pilots who took part in the joint training exercise have a common history: they are all graduates of the same IAF Pilot Course and received their wings together, which made the atmosphere especially competitive. “This is the first time that we, graduates of the same course, are competing against each other. Everyone wants to win”, explains First Lieutenant Ben. “On the other hand, we conduct a joint debriefing and learn from one another”.
The cadets in the advanced operational training course are in fact still undergoing operational training and they have yet to finish. During their stay at the “Flying Tiger” and the “Defenders of the South” instructional squadrons, they deepen and enrich their aerial combat and flight abilities and getting familiar with operational routine in the squadrons. “At this point, it is important for us to see other planes in order to become familiar with another flight forms”, adds First Lieutenant Ben. “This is another step towards our goal”.