Excitement was in the air in Hatzerim Airbase this week, when pilot cadets flew on the new instructional plane, the M-346, or the "Lavi" for the first time. The new plane, which replaced the old IAF Skyhawk, will enable the IAF to operate one of the most advanced training programs in the world. "This is a historical and exciting event", said Captain Alon, Commander of the first class to fly on the new M-346. "The M-346 holds advanced capabilities similar to those of the F-15 and F-16, and will better prepare the pilot cadets for their work in the squadrons".
During the past weeks, the pilot cadets underwent intensive training in the M-346 flight simulators in order to adjust to the new plane that they would soon be flying. "The cadets prepared for the sorties and for two weeks studies every system in the plane. The systems of the Skyhawk, in comparison, required only two days of studying", explains Captain Alon. The cadets were also the first to train in the new simulator.
The M-346 will stay for many years
The introduction of the M-346 brings to the flight school has led to significant changes in the training of the future pilots and weapon system operators, and to the entire training program of the IAF. "Flying on the M-346 is different than the usual flight in the simulator", explains Niv, a pilot cadet. "We can physically feel what it is like to fly on a real fighter jet and realize the control we have on its systems. It feels special to be the first class to fly on the new M-346".
The Skyhawk served the pilot cadets for 40 years and the M-346 is expected to last much longer. "As long as the IAF carried out manned flights, the M-346 will continue to be used", stated Captain Alon.