Operators of the instructional M-346 trainer jet from all over the world congregated in Israel for a unique forum in which they shared questions and insights about piloting and maintaining the aircraft. Among the operators of the jet, the IAF has amassed the largest number of flight hours
Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
Last week, the IAF hosted a unique conference: Operators of the M-346 from all over the world, known in Israel as the “Lavi” (Hebrew for Lion) congregated in Hazerim AFB for a mutual discussion regarding the operation of the jet, knowledge sharing and tightening of cooperation. Technical teams and aircrews from countries such as Italy and Poland that also operate the jet took part in the conference.
“The meeting is a fertile ground for sharing ideas and insights that each country accumulated while operating the jet. The goal is to develop and befit the jet as an instruction platform that will train aircrew members to operate next generation fighter jets”, shared Lt. Col. Tal, the Commander of the “Flying Tiger” Squadron that operates the “Lavi” and is responsible for training fighter pilots and WSOs in their Operational Training Course and Advanced Operational Training Course. Flight School cadets in the advance stage of the Fighter Division also operate the “Lavi”.
Photography: Guy Ashash
“The IAF possesses the largest amount of M-346 jets in the world and already has about 7,000 flight hours on the jet, the highest number among all of the air forces that possess it”, mentioned Maj. Erez, the “Lavi” Project Officer. The Italian Air Force has performed over 4,000 hours of flight in the jet and the Polish Air Force will receive its first pair of the jets during the coming year.
The companies involved in the production of the aircraft also participated in the conference. “We decided to bring the aircraft’s manufacturers and its clients together as another tool to better understand it and learn how to solve malfunctions that occur in operation and maintenance”, explained Maj. Erez.
For the First Time: Operational Training for WSOs
The International “Lavi” Operators Conference was significant to the design of the IAF’s Fighter WSOs training – up until now, only fighter pilots underwent an Operational Training Course and Advanced Operational Training Course. Following the decommission of the senior training aircraft, the A-4 Skyhawk and its replacement with the “Lavi”, a new concept in the IAF has developed according to which WSOs will also undergo another training period after flight school and before their integration in operational squadrons.
The first class to take part in the change and undergo the Operational WSO Course is the soon-to-graduate class of WSOs that is currently in the advanced stage of flight school. Six months of training in the cockpit and instruction by experienced WSOs in the simulator, will strengthen the young WSOs flight foundations while emphasizing the demands from the modern WSO and team work.
Photography: Guy Ashash
The IAF representatives in the conference utilized the meeting with other air forces in order to understand how to utilize the jet for better training for WSOs and in order to share their insights on the matter. “In other forces, the missions and threats are different and accordingly, the WSO’s duty changes”, said Maj. G’, Commander of the Advanced WSO Squadron in the IAF Flight Academy. “We learned how to train our young WSOs in team work from other air forces in the conference and explained how to make the instruction more creative. The number of simulator sorties WSOs in training perform in the IAF is among the highest in the world”.