“The cockpit is a lot more similar to the reality that the cadet will experience in operational flights”
The M-346 on the Runway The Israeli minister’s cabinet has confirmed that in 2015, the IAF’s new instructional airplane will be the Italian M-346, which will replace the Skyhawk, a combination of the F-15, F-16 and Eurofighterm, which was a stepping stone in every generation of pilots
Nowadays, you won’t be able to find an IAF pilot who isn’t very familiar, to say the least, with the time-honored Skyhawk. But in 2015, a new instructor is destined to arrive at the Aviation Academy. The Italian M-346 will be named the official new instructional airplane of the IAF.
“The Italian airplane is a combination” said Colonel K, head of the Instructional Department of the IAF to the IAF Magazine.”It’s a crossbreed of the F-15, F-16 and the Eurofighter. In contrast to the South Korean airplane candidate, the Italian airplane has two engines opposed to one, which holds a very significant safety advantage. In the long run, it’ll assist us with the F-35 and prepare us for the future”.
Why a New Plane?
Although the Skyhawk has loyally served the IAF pilot cadets, its 40 year seniority is nearing its end. Putting aside usability issues, the Skyhawk is outdated and can’t be compared to the IAF’s operational airplanes which will be used by the Pilot Training Course graduating pilots. The new instructional airplane is expected to reduce various gaps between training stages.
“These airplanes give us solutions for the current everyday challenges”, said Lieutenant Colonel Avshalom, Head of Planes in the IAF Headquarters to the IAF Magazine. “The involvement within the airplane is much easier; the advanced avionics take the pressure off our instructors and give them time to pay extra attention to their cadets. The inner workings of the airplane are very similar to a very advanced airplane: rotating maps, radars and a much more realistic feel to the reality that the cadets will face later on in their operational flights.
The advanced technology isn’t the only advantage. In comparison to the Skyhawk, which was built as a combat airplane and not an instructional one, the M-346 was meant to assist pilots from the beginning from its initial design. “The plane was designated for instruction to begin with and that makes it much easier”, added Lieutenant Colonel Avshalom. “As an instructor, it’s hard for you to understand what goes through your student’s head, what he sees or what he doesn’t, where his mind wandered off and what information he missed and made him reach a certain answer but not the other. On the other hand, in these airplanes you can clearly observe the students, where they are looking, what bothers them and what will be their next move”.