First Israeli Air Force cadets complete initial training on new M-346 jets


Dec 5, 2014
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Yaakov Lappin, Tel Aviv - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
25 June 2015

The IAF received its first two M-346s in July 2014 Source: Alenia Aermacchi

The Israel Air Force (IAF) has awarded officers' ranks to the first group of cadets to complete their initial flight training on the new Alenia Aermacchi M-346 jet trainers.

The ceremony held at Hatzerim Air Base on 23 June marked six months of the cadets flying the M-346, which is called Lavi (Hebrew for Lion) by the IAF.

The IAF received its first two M-346s in July 2014 and declared the type operational in January. Senior flight squadron trainers at Hatzerim said the Lavi has now completely replaced the previous training platforms: the F-16A and Skyhawk.

The deputy commander of the Hatzerim training squadron, Major Erez, whose full name cannot be disclosed, said the M-346 enables training that was "not possible" with the old aircraft.

He said it significantly improves his ability to train cadets to cope with the surface-to-air missile systems possessed by Iran, Syria, and the Lebanese group Hizbullah, as well as conduct realistic air-to-air combat simulations.

Maj Erez added that some of the M-346's features enable cadets to learn about techniques and conceptual aspects that relate to Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. The IAF's first F-35A is scheduled to be delivered in 2016.

Having being taught basic air-to-air engagements against one or two hostile aircraft and simple air-to-ground attack techniques, the cadets will spend the next year learning how to engage multiple enemy jets and cope with challenging ground-based missile threats.

They will also practice more complex air-to-ground attacks, formation flying, aerial territorial defences, and alternate roles between wingmen and formation leaders.

A third training phase lasting six months will take the cadets through fundamental operational flying modes. This last phase will also include long-range strike training under challenging conditions. During this stage, trainers will also send simulated scenarios to the M-346's computers.

Having been assigned to an operational squadron, the qualified IAF pilots will undergo additional training on the aircraft operated by their units.

First Israeli Air Force cadets complete initial training on new M-346 jets - IHS Jane's 360