The IAF isn’t made up of only pilots, WSOs or technicians. For Pi Day, meet the scientists of the IAF: the ones that translate aerial maneuvers to mathematical equations and engineering models to operational products

Shachar Zorani | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

A fighter jet takes off for an operational mission from its base to its destination, it begins to climb and when it reaches the required height, flies to its target. The pilot in the cockpit knows how to fly his aircraft, but the fundamentals of flight do not suffice – there is a need to know the aircraft extremely well, understand the circumstances of the mission and know at what altitude to fly, at what speed and what the required amount of fuel is. Behind these many criteria, there are exact calculations, mathematical equations and physical principles.

For Pi Day, which is celebrated in Israel as Science Day and is indicated this week all over the world, we asked ourselves, as curios individuals with limited knowledge of physics and mathematics, what is the connection between flight and science and is flight, in fact, an exact science?

“Of course flight is an exact science”, says without hesitation Lt. Col. Moshik, head of the Flight Sciences Branch in IAF HQ. “Flight is based on physics and electronics which are exact sciences and behind every flight there is an engineering model. In order to keep our aircraft and people safe and execute our missions, we use engineering tools”.

Is Flight Exact Science?

Photography: Nir Ben Yossef

Science Saves Lives
Science is present in every aspect of modern life and it plays a central role in the IAF as well. The scientific knowledge we hold, enables us to accomplish life changing developments, revolutionary technology, new types of life saving medicine and as a result – significant developments in the military world and direct influence on the modern battle field.

The duty of a scientist in the IAF, according to Lt. Col. Moshik, is to recognize the operational requirement and realize it: “Our mission is to translate the operational requirement to our world and deconstruct it to its basic elements: from the definition stage through ground and aerial experiments and to calculations and formulating a plan”.

The work of IAF scientists has saved lives more than once and prevented disasters. “One of our missions is to make sure that the aircraft don’t spin out of control”, he demonstrates. “We have analytical tools that we work with, alongside flight experiments and we aim for safe flying. A miscalculation could cause loss of control or even a crash”.

The scientific world is full of concepts and complex terminology and when we met Lt. Col. Moshik, he needed to explain each term in depth. According to him, their research is manifested in the work of aircrews in the field, so the product needs to be simple and clear. “We need to simplify the engineering accordingly with the pilot’s need. We need to explain the nature of the flight and define clear limitations such as maximum weight, maximum G, speed et cetera. We analyze the data and produce a simple and accessible explanation for the pilots”.

Is Flight Exact Science?

Photography: Nir Ben Yossef

“Abilities that only few possess”
The IAF aspires to be independent, to progress and develop in every field, in strength buildup and in its operations. As a part of this, the IAF also aspires to achieve complete engineering independence in science. “Throughout the years, we have developed abilities so we wouldn’t have to be dependent on anyone”, shares Lt. Col. Moshik. In light of this, the branch’s personnel have to be creative in their work and think of new ways to develop measurable engineering and scientific tools. As a part of their work they maintain external cooperation such as work with the Authority for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure and the Security Industries and internal cooperation with different units in the IAF such as the Aerial Maintenance Unit and the Electronic Equipment Workshop.

“Today we have abilities that only few in the world possess”, ruled Lt. Col. Moshik. “We are developing a unique ability called calculative aerodynamics which we did not have in the IAF until 1999. It can replace complex and costly experiments that may also endanger aircrews and allows us to test things that are sometimes impossible to test by experimenting. Additionally, due to the complexity of the issues we deal with and the depth of our research, we are trying to promote research with the academia in general and the “Technion” (Israeli Institute of Technology) in particular in different fields, such as methods of propulsion. We are required to continue developing our abilities and engineering tools in order to match them to the IAF’s needs”.

Is Flight Exact Science?

 
Photography: Nir Ben Yossef

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