MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) SAM (Surface-Air-Missiles) batteries and virtual training: the IAF has initiated a program intended to improve its preparedness and fitness by upgrading its existing capabilities, acquisition and long-term development of advanced training tools adapted to the modern and challenging Middle-Eastern battlefield
Eilon Tohar & Illy Pe’ery
Considering the map of dynamic security threats Israel faces, the IAF is equipping itself with new capabilities and improving its existing capabilities in the field of training.
“Throughout the years, the assortment of training tools we had at our disposal were consequential, in other words, they were derived from local processes and not from an organized, long-term program”, explained Lt. Col. Gil, Head of the Simulator Branch in the Weapons Department. “We decided to stop and think which training capabilities we want to develop and which tools we want to acquire as part of a comprehensive training concept”. The goal, he explained, is to eventually possess a variety of more high quality tools.
Training in the New World
As part of the new concept, training tools are expected to be upgraded in various IAF divisions such as the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and Tactical Transport Divisions. The short-term intention is to maintain and improve the IAF’s existing capabilities that include ground systems and threat simulation technology. According to Lt. Col. Gil, besides the quality of the training tools, the element of surprise aircrew are susceptible to is expected to improve as well.
Maj. Itay, head of the Advanced Training Department: “We are operating in a new world, much more dynamic, that involves system and capabilities that didn’t exist a few years ago. Thus far, the IAF has relied on relatively old systems that provide us with a good response to our needs, but we wanted to take the world of training another step forward”.
Among others, the IAF will acquire MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) simulators that will better address the helicopter and tactical transport divisions. In the long-term, the IAF intends to utilize technologies that will upgrade the possibility to rehearse operation of Electronic Warfare.
From Training to Debriefing
One of the interesting projects led by the Simulator Branch is virtual training, which provides advanced simulation of SAM batteries with no need for physical missile systems. Virtual training will be inserted into the aircraft’s systems similarly to the way their information systems are loaded with information regarding navigation and weapons systems, so while flying, the aircrew members will encounter virtual displays that will realistically simulate scenarios they will face if they encounter an enemy Anti-Aircraft fire. Maj. Itay explained that besides improving the quality of training, the new tool will also improve the ability to debrief. “The new systems will allow us to calculate the likeliness of a hit by means of physical calculations that deal with the location of the aircraft in relation to the battery and the escape maneuvers it performs in order to make sure the rocket indeed ‘hit’ the aircraft”.
The new “Adir” (F-35I) stealth fighter is also occupying the IAF’s power build-up personnel, who aim to provide it with training adapted to the fifth generation. “We understand that we must adapt ourselves to the developing threats and not stay behind”, Maj. Itay concluded. “We are working ‘in house’ and in cooperation with the security industries in order to strengthen this field, which is no less important than other power build-up processes and aspire to strengthen the IAF’s preparedness for all threats”.
Photography: Maj. Ofer