In an effort to improve the proficiency of Israel Air Force pilots, the IDF is considering a multi-million dollar plan to buy eight new F-16 simulators. Two weeks ago, outgoing IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy inaugurated the a state-of-the-art F-16I simulator at the air force's Hatzor Base south of Ashdod. Hatzor is home to several F-16 squadrons, including 101 and 105, as well as all of the IAF's flight simulators - for the F-15I, F-16I and F-16C and D. According to the new plan, the brainchild of base commander Col. Ariel Brikman, the IAF will receive the additional simulators for F-16 fighter jets in the coming years. The two-seater simulator for the F-16I which was installed earlier this month cost close to $20 million. The simulator was developed by Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin. IAF pilots usually train with the simulators at least four times a year. Elbit, which developed the avionics systems for use in 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."