The first batch of Israeli Air Force (IAF) student pilots earned their wings on the new Alenia Aermacchi M-346 jet trainer this week, media in Jerusalem report. The pilots graduated at Hatzerim airbase, home of the dozen or so – out of 30 on order – M-346 aircraft already in service in Israel.
The M-346 Lavi (lion in Hebrew) replaces the F-16A and A-4 Skyhawk in the Israeli training program. With the M-346 “we can train students in a realistic way. This is something we could not do with the Skyhawk or the F-16A,” said an instructor pilot, stating also that the Italian made aircraft is capable of simulating the most advanced F-16 and even touches the F-35 Lightning II also ordered by Israel.
The students have yet three more phases to complete before they are operational pilots. The M-346 will stay with them all the way. In the third phase, the aircraft takes the students through all kinds of real life, operational scenarios. These scenarios are downloaded into the aircraft’s systems before every flight.
The M-346 shows itself as much more than a training aircraft. The Italian Air Force is also working to integrate the aircraft into the Eurofighter Typhoon training program. The Royal Netherlands Air Force is looking at the M-346 as an operational training platform next to its 37 F-35A Lightning IIs on order.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An M-346 Lavi. (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)