First Israeli students ride M-346 Lavi

Israeli Air Force (IAF) flight school students flew the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Lavi for the first time this week at Hatzerim airbase, six months after the first aircraft arrived in Israel. During the occasion, it was remarked that the M-346 will continue to be used ‘for as long as the IAF carries out manned flights’.

The M-346 is operated in Israel by 102 ‘the Flying Tigers’ squadron and replaces the A-4 Skyhawk, which has been in service for 40 years. Student pilots prepared for their flights in new simulators, part of a Flight Training Center for the M-346. The new aircraft and its associated training systems are regarded as one of the most advanced training programs in the world.

The M-346 is called Lavi (Lion) in Hebrew. (Image © Neta Guri)
The M-346 is called Lavi (Lion) in Hebrew. (Image © Neta Guri)

“This is a historical and exciting event”, said Captain Alon, commander of the first class to fly on the new type. “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.”

The Israeli’s have 30 M-346s on order, with eight so far delivered. The type is also ordered – or already used – by Italy, Singapore and Poland.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest