When alarms sound throughout the country and IAF bases are alerted, the Simulator Squadron’s personnel from Hatzor AFB are dispersed throughout the IAF’s squadrons and operational HQ in order to fill key roles in operational missions
Aircraft crashing, engines exploding and complex aerial combat are a few examples of scenarios the Simulator Squadron’s aircrews from Hatzor AFB train for. In routine, the squadron personnel – young enlisted soldiers, NCOs and civilians – work hard to train aircrews to operate aerial emergencies and maintaining their fitness but in combat, the squadron’s training activity is halted and its personnel become idle.
“During Operation ‘Protective Edge’, our simulator sorties were canceled and we understood that our large amounts of high quality personnel, critical manpower, are wasted in combat”, testified Maj. Yuval, Commander of the Aerial Ammunition Center. “We thought that we should realize the squadron members’ potential and decided to scatter the instruction personnel in various IAF units that need extra manpower”.
From Routine to War
There are a number of centers in the IAF’s Simulator Squadron: the fighter division’s Emergency Simulator Center focuses on operating aerial emergencies, the Aerial Ammunition Center qualifies IAF aircrews to use and operate guided and autonomous weapons and the Mission Training Center focuses on providing complex training exercises which include simulated formation flight, a 360 degree view and providing a realistic flight experience on the ground. “In each center, the instructors’ role is different and we disperse them accordingly”, explained Maj. Yuval. “The ATC (Air Traffic Control) instructors are positioned in the ATC Units and serve as ATC NCOs, Intelligence and Navigation NCOs are positioned in the Intelligence and Navigation Departments in operational squadrons and the Aerial Ammunition Center’s instructors participate in planning targets in the squadrons and HQ”.
In the squadron’s Intelligence Departments for example, the instructors simply support their routine activity. The NCOs in the squadrons create flight material which includes information critical to the success of the mission – flight paths, targets, maps and tapes. “There is a permanent sequence of actions we perform when preparing flight material”, explained SRGT. Orly, Commander of the “First Fighter” Squadron’s Intelligence and Navigation Department. “In combat we want to deal with preparations as little as possible and with sending aircraft off to sorties as much as possible and the simulator instructors help us perform the sequence properly. By doing so, we prevent mistakes and make sure that aircraft take off for their missions on time”.