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IDF/AF considers more F-16 simulators

May 17, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - In efforts to improve flying proficiency of Israeli pilots, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is considering a plan which may mean spending millions on purchasing eight new F-16 simulators.

Roll-out of the first F-16I 'Sufa' (#253) for Israel at LMTAS' Fort Worth facility on November 14th, 2003.

Major General Elazar Shkedy, the outgoing IDF/AF commander inaugurated a state of the art two seat F-16I simulator at Hatzor air base. Hatzor is the home of several F-16 squadrons, including 101 and 105, as well as all of the IAF's flight simulators.

The new plan, the brainchild of Hatzor base commander Col. Ariel Brikman, says the airforce will receive the additional simulators over the coming years.

The F-16I simulator was installed earlier this month costing close to $20 million. Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin developed the simulator. IAF pilots usually train on the simulators at least four times a year.

Elbit Systems, which developed the avionics for the actual F-16I aircraft, also provided the systems for the training simulator. BVR Systems, acting as a subcontractor for Elbit, supplied the visual display and cockpit simulators.

"Simulators are a great training tool since they are cheaper to use than to take out a plane for a real flight," a senior Air Force officer said late last week. The simulators were used to train pilots to fly in tough weather conditions and how to react to midair mechanical malfunctions.

"Not everything can be done in a real live flight," the officer explained. "With eight simulators pilots will be able to train flying in large formations, something they cannot always do during real flights."