The IDF’s Ground Forces Command unveiled its first ever aircraft simulator, designed to train the Artillery Corps Sky Rider drone unit, the IDF said on Monday.The Sky Rider unit – the only drone operator that does not belong to the Israel Air Force – recently took possession of an upgraded version of the remote-controlled aircraft, which entered service in 2010.On Sunday, one of the Sky Rider drones crashed in the Gaza Strip, following a technical fault. During a ceremony held last week in the presence of the Chief Artillery Corps Officer Brig.-Gen. Roee Riftin, the simulator was unveiled at the Ramon training base in Mitzpe Ramon, where the unit is based.“The Sky Rider Unit is one of the most necessary units in the Ground Forces,” Riftin said. “Now, the onus will be on creating even better soldiers.”The simulator will allow cadets to master control of the drone and will simulate a range of night and daytime scenarios, as well as various weather conditions and terrains. It will train future members of the unit to operate the drone in conjunction with tanks, and to deal with rocket launchers, terror suspects and other hostile entities, “without eroding real drones through drills,” the IDF stated.The drones, which are launched manually by soldiers throwing them into the air, are expected to form a key part of any future full scale ground operation.Cameras on board the Sky Rider drone provide thermal imaging, allowing nighttime observation. Sky Rider is also playing an increasing role in counter terror raids in the West Bank, sending back images of villages as arrests occur.Its video images have been used to conduct surveillance of rioters and later help prosecute them in court.Brig.-Gen. Ben Weisman, the newly appointed commander of Sky Rider, said, “Thanks to the simulator, the readiness of the crews for war will improve immeasurably.”After the ceremony, the unit’s officers entered the simulator and used it to track down a car containing terrorists that was selected for “attack.” The officers oversaw the “destruction” of the vehicle.