The F35 fighter jet plane, also known as the Adir, on the Tarmac at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas.
(photo credit: LOCKHEED MARTIN / ALEXANDER H. GROVES)
With the addition of the F-35 Adir jet to its arsenal, the Israel Air Force has undergone significant change, including in the training of IAF technicians who, shortly after enlisting in the army, already are working on the world’s most advanced stealth fighter.
“The technical aspect of the air force is extremely important,” a senior IAF officer told The Jerusalem Post last week, adding that the technicians working on the F-35 are “the best in the air force.”
According to the senior officer, the qualifications needed to work as a technician on the F-35 are extremely high, including receiving top grades in electronics and having English as their mother tongue.
“It’s a very complex learning experience for the air force,” he told the Post. “It’s like building a house, you must learn every single part from the foundation up.”
In March, the air force opened a new maintenance training center in Nevatim Air Force Base where cadets learn on simulators with 3D screens that allowing them to train for different scenarios on the F-35 without having to be in front of it. Cadets also receive encrypted tablets with training videos, which according to the senior officer, have shortened the training period by two weeks.
Israel, which is expected to receive a total of 50 F-35s over the next few years giving the IAF two squadrons by 2022, was the first country outside the United States to receive the fighter jet.
“The Adir is a new plane, even the Americans are still learning all of its intricacies.
It’s not like the F-16, which we know very well,” he said, adding that the air force must now “reverse-engineer” the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jet to fully understand it.
Hundreds of technicians have already passed the intensive, three-month course and are working on the five F-35 Adirs that are already here.
Israel is also the only partner nation to have secured the right from the US to perform depot-level maintenance, including overhauling engines and airframe components, within its borders.
Top-level maintenance of the F-35 is especially important because it is an expensive and controversial aircraft that has had a series of serious failures.
The US Air Force on Friday grounded all F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona after pilots complained of hypoxia-related issues in five separate incidents. While the aircraft’s backup oxygen system kicked in and allowed the pilot to land safely, 48 of 55 F-35s were affected by the temporary stand-down that was slated to end Monday.
Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff was quoted by CNN as saying the US Air Force has contacted other F-35 squadrons and the nine international partners operating the aircraft to educate pilots on the incident.
Israel Aerospace Industries announced Monday that its MALAM division would provide the EHUD air combat maneuvering instrumentation (ACMI) system to the IAF to be used for training between combat aircraft and the Lavi training airplanes.
“The use of EHUD opens the door for shared live drills and debriefing with the Lavi airplanes based on the EHUD network as is already carried out by other countries such as Italy.
This is thanks to IAI’s capacity to perform LVC (Live, Virtual, Constructive) drills with the newest and most advanced generation of EHUD,” the announcement said.
The system will be mounted on the various combat aircraft to allow the fourth-generation combat aircraft to undertake combat scenarios with the Lavi, which are already equipped with the EHUD communication system, according to the statement.