After saying goodbye to the “Netz” (F-16A/B) that escorted them for years, the “Flying Dragon” Squadron, the IAF’s aggressor squadron, is preparing for the integration of the “Barak” (F-16C/D) that will usher the squadron into a new era

Illy Peery & Eden Biton

This month, the “Flying Dragon” Squadron, the IAF’s aggressor squadron that simulates the enemy in training, underwent a conversion training period on the “Fighter Simulators” Squadron’s F-16 simulator in order to prepare themselves for the integration of the “Barak” (F-16C/D) fighter jets. “We arrived at the simulator as part of the conversion process to a new platform in order to better familiarize ourselves with the aircraft before the aerial conversion training period”, shared Maj. Itzik, Deputy Squadron Commander. “We have begun to understand its capabilities, its advantages and disadvantages – what it can give us”.

Only last month, the Squadron said goodbye to the “Netz” (F-16A/B) which it flew for years. “The ‘Netz’ was dear to us and it was part of the squadron and will forever remain in the pages of history and our hearts, but we are excited for the next chapter”, he added. “The ‘Barak’ is an aircraft from a different generation and we feel great excitement and responsibility. We are receiving an advanced operational platform and it is part of our responsibility to keep it one. We understand that we are expected to raise the level of our enemy simulation”.

Moving Forward

The “Netz” | Archive Photo

Same but Different
Most conversion training courses held in the “Barak” simulator are intended for young pilots positioned in operational “Barak” squadrons upon completing flight school and as such, they mostly revolve around information relevant to pilots with little experience. The “Flying Dragon” Squadron’s conversion training was fundamentally different: the squadron’s pilots are all senior and experienced servicemen from the fighter division, while some have even flown F-16’s for years. “The ‘Flying Dragon’ Squadron’s conversion training is special because of the vast knowledge and experience the pilots arrive with”, explained Capt. Dan, Commander of the “Barak” Simulator. “In the conversion training, we mostly focused on the differences between the F-16’s. The ‘Netz’ and ‘Barak’ are similar but different, mostly regarding maintenance of emergency malfunctions. Therefore, we made sure to simulate unfamiliar situations for the pilots, so that if necessary, they will immediately know how to act”.

Moving Forward

Archive Photo

Conversion to the “Barak” is relatively simple for those who flew this type of aircraft in the past, but pilots who spent the majority of their service flying F-15s face a challenging change in mindset. “During the conversion training, we emphasize the mental differences between flying F-15 jets that are equipped with twin-engines and F-16 single-engine jet fighter”, said Corporal Noah, a simulator instructor. “A malfunction in an F-15 engine isn’t considered a significant emergency because there is another engine the pilots can rely on, whereas an engine malfunction in an F-16 calls for an immediate emergency landing. We deal with the mental differences that lay in the concept of malfunctions in the aircraft quite a lot”.

The Silent Heroes
The group most affected by the squadron’s transition to the “Barak” are the technicians. They are responsible for maintaining the aircraft’s fitness and the squadron’s fitness as the IAF’s aggressor squadron. “It’s a busy time for them, that is supposed to prepare them to maintain the new aircraft”, said Maj. Itzik. “They are busy and work around the clock. We appreciate them and are very proud of them”.

Moving Forward

The “Barak” | Archive Photo