Connected training enables precise strike planning, says IAF
Four Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16s fly over Syria and launch different types of weapon systems that hit Iranian rocket upgrade factories. The weapons hit precisely, and the Syrians expend considerable quantities of air-defence munitions without hitting anything.
This is the second time the pilots attacked the same targets in less than two days – but they performed the first 'mission' in the IAF connected simulators facility in the Mission Training Center (MTC) at Hatzor Air Force Base.
The MTC has undergone continuous upgrades since it was built in 2010, the facility commander explained to Shephard during a recent visit.
Elbit Systems built the facility, which opened in 2013. The fully-networked MTC supports full-scale live, virtual and constructive training, based on standard protocols. It uses Elbit quad HD generators and the company’s Targo helmet-mounted display.
‘We operate two types of simulators - one enables the pilots to get familiar with their aircraft, and [the other is] a mission simulator,’ the MTC commander noted.
Four IAF fighter types have a dedicated simulator - F-15C , F-15I, F-16 and F-16I – in the MTC as an exact copy of a real cockpit under a dome. The individual simulators are operated in front of a 180° image projected on the dome. The various cockpits are rolled in and out according to the specific training session.
The F-35 is an exception. Its pilots use an advanced mission simulator that was built at Nevatim Air Force Base. The simulator was supplied by Lockheed Martin with the dome made by Rockwell Collins.
'The pilot sees all the threats along the flight path to the target, and all other relevant data.'— Maj Gen (ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu, ex-IAF commander
The connected simulators in the MTC, which simulate combat missions to the smallest detail, are operated in a 360° video dome. The facility commander noted that these simulators cut IAF pilot flight training hours by at least 14%.
There are eight 'blue squadron' mission simulators and two 'red force' simulators to represent the enemy.
Maj Gen (ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu, a former commander of the IAF, told Shephard that the MTC enables combat missions to be planned and simulated ‘to the smallest operational details, pointing to all threats and sensitive aspects [of the mission]’.
He added: ‘The pilot sees all the threats along the flight path to the target, and all other relevant data. He can plan a mission based on this information.’
In 2019 alone, the IAF struck Iranian or Hezbollah targets in more than 200 attacks, mainly in Syria. More air strikes have been mounted since the beginning of this year. Russian troops were close to the targets of recent attacks, so these missions required careful planning.
‘The combat scenarios that the IAF has to deal with are very complicated, [with] different types of aircraft and weapon systems in the air and on the ground,’ an Elbit official explained. ‘This resulted in creating the highest level of simulation in this facility.’
They added that besides cutting flying hours, the MTC ‘enables [the IAF] to replicate situations that cannot be simulated in real flying’. This capability is delivered by VR generators that are fed by real-time intelligence.
The MTC is continuously updated with intelligence on enemy capabilities and threats to IAF assets. It is connected to the IAF intelligence-gathering and processing engine; so when an attack is planned, the latest data is transferred to the MTC. Hence, when the pilots simulate their mission, they have almost real-time threat status data available.
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