Four months after taking off for the USA, the “Golden Eagle” Squadron’s aircrews have returned from F-35I conversion training. After 32 simulator sorties, the pilots are “ready for a sortie on the real thing”

Zohar Boneh

“You can learn to fly this plane in an hour”, admitted Brig. Gen. Eyal Greenboim, Nevatim AFB Commander that will integrate the “Adir” F-35I in less than two weeks. “The complex part, that takes a long time, is learning to fully operate it operationally. Its systems and the amount of information that it holds are the ones that make the ‘Adir’ revolutionary”.

After four months of studying the jet in the U.S, the first “Adir” aircrews have returned to Israel from conversion training, joined by Nevatim AFB Commander and the “Adir” Simulator Officer. “Each one of us performed about 32 sorties in the advanced simulator”, shared Lt. Col. Yotam, Commander of the “Golden Eagle” Squadron. “Differently to the other countries that came here to train, we didn’t fly it in the training center, a fact that shouldn’t pose a safety issue. The American instructors will come assist us in the first stories in order to maximize the efficiency of our training”.

Adir Pilots Back from the U.S

Archive Photo

“Adir” Around the Clock
07:00 AM, the members of the “Golden Eagle” Squadron are dressed and ready for another day of training. Their instructors, some Lockheed Martin and some USAF personnel await them in Luke AFB’s advanced training center. The classrooms next to them hold aircrews from Italy, Norway and the U.S, who, like them, are there to learn how to ideally operate the new stealth fighter. 

Throughout the day, they will undergo intensive courses and classes, acquaint themselves with the structure of the F-35I, understand how to operate it and learn about its systems. In addition, they will perform simulator sorties preceded by detailed briefs and followed by detailed debriefs.

“Our training was comprehensive and fluctuated between very simple and very complex missions, some at night and in uncertain conditions”, shared Lt. Col. Yotam. “Sometimes we asked questions that didn’t have immediate answers, but were always answered eventually. Like in every conversion training, we had tests that tested our progression over time”.

Adir Pilots Back from the U.S

Photography: Lockheed Martin

One Unified Squadron
One of the new concepts that fifth gen. technology brings with it, is a change in the pilot’s function. In fourth generation fighter jets, aircrews were occupied with operating systems, in the “Adir”, the pilots will deal with mission management as many of the jet’s systems are autonomous. “You can feel the changes in the conversion training, but we’re only at the beginning of the project. I believe that as time will pass, the conceptual changes will sink in and we will know how to maximize the fighter’s abilities”.

“We feel ready to fly the fighter and in Israel the preparations for the arrival are at their peak. The squadron has almost finished preparing for the integration and the excitement is tangible. We want to connect and become one unified squadron”, concluded Lt. Col. Yotam.