Simulators are becoming extremely significant among manned aircraft in the IAF and now, among unmanned aerial systems as well. The significant progress in the field has come to fruition lately with the integration of the new “Shoval” simulator

Eilon Tohar | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

 The IAF has recently received a new “Shoval” UAV simulator. The absorption of the simulator was indicated in a ribbon cutting ceremony held in the simulator squadron in Palmahim AFB, as a part of the process to make simulators a significant part of the IAF’s training program, with the UAV squadrons among them. The ceremony was held in the presence of Brig. Gen. Nir Barkan, Head of the Air Division. Brig. Gen. N, the AFB Commander, personnel from the UAV Squadron, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Air Staff, Material Directorate and the Simulator squadron, also attended the event.

“Until today, we had minimal simulation abilities, but now, upon the absorption of the new simulator, we have an advanced simulator which gives us advanced abilities that we didn’t have until today”, emphasized Capt. Effi Aviv, Simulator Project Officer in the Material Directorate. “This simulator can simulate flight in the ‘Shoval’ for the purpose of training for emergency situations and for full execution of missions from beginning to end, including communication abilities, connectivity capabilities and simulation of payloads for recon missions, among them advanced capabilities which are being integrated into the operational squadron today”.

A new “Shoval” (IAI “Heron”) UAV Simulator

Photography: Hagar Amibar

“The future is ahead of us”
The UAV Division plays an important part in the modern battlefield and executes recon and direction of aerial and ground forces missions in real time. The new simulator will save money spent on flight hours meant for practice and easily train for unusual events which are difficult to simulate in reality.
“In a short time and for a low cost, we were able to operationalize an advanced simulator which can fully simulate an operational mission – from the briefing to the debriefing”, added Shaul Shachar, Head of the Military Aircraft Division in Aerospace Industries. “In some cases, simulation precedes the actual operational system. We also managed to adapt ourselves to other missions the squadron executes. The future is ahead of us”.

The simulator squadron in Palmahim AFB trains all of the UAV squadrons in the IAF and is in an upgrade process, which includes many innovations which are expected to be integrated into the squadron in the coming months. The squadron includes simulators for the IAF’s transport helicopters and a number of UAV simulators. “This is a big step forward for the ‘Shoval’ Division, an important division in the world of UAVs, who’s ability to train outside of the mission stations was limited until now”, said Lt. Col. Arnon, the simulator squadron commander. “This is a part of an accelerated improvement process as a part of which the simulator squadron is expected to expand and assign unique infrastructure for the IAF’s UAV simulators”.

A new “Shoval” (IAI “Heron”) UAV Simulator

Photography: Hagar Amibar

The “Shoval”: a developing division
The new simulator can simulate full operational activity, including flight over urban areas, and not only in order to simulate a realistic battle image: as a part of the operators’ training, which is a large part of directing aircraft to their targets, they will have to practice prevention of hurting un-involved civilians.
“You can see a full picture of the relevant theatres in the simulator, including ‘entities’, meaning figures walking down the street, as they can be seen from the eye of the UAV in reality. The threats you can simulate in the new simulator are diverse: from a donkey carrying a rocket and to a rocket in a houses yard”, explained Doron Amir, the “Shoval” project director in IAI. “The simulator doesn’t only allow the squadron to save money in flight hours and allocate them to operational sorties, but also simulate situations you cannot simulate on real aircraft, such as malfunctions.”

The simulator is expected to serve the IAF’s “Shoval” operators and improve their training abilities. It is a senior division but relevant as ever, which is expected to receive new missions soon. “This is the first time that there is such a high level simulator for the ‘Shoval’ and it allows us to train for operational activity and team work”, said the proud Lt. Col. Tomer, the “First UAV” Squadron Commander which operates the “Shoval”.

A new “Shoval” (IAI “Heron”) UAV Simulator

Photography: Hagar Amibar