The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master will become the IAF's new instructional airplane in 2015, replacing the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
The Italian Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master is slated to become the IAF's new official instructional airplane in 2015, replacing the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. "The Italian airplane is a combination," Colonel K, head of the Instructional Department of the IAF, explained to IAF Magazine."It's a crossbreed of the F-15, the F-16, and the Eurofighter. In contrast to the South Korean airplane candidate, the Italian airplane has two engines as opposed to one – which holds a very significant safety advantage. In the long run, it'll assist us with the F-35 and prepare us for the future."
Why a New Plane?
Although the Skyhawk has loyally served IAF pilot cadets, its 40-year seniority is nearing its end. It has become outdated and can't be compared to the IAF's operational airplanes that the pilots will fly after completing their training. The new instructional airplane is expected to reduce various gaps between training stages.
"These airplanes give us solutions for the current everyday challenges," Lt. Col. Avshalom, Head of Planes in the IAF Headquarters, told IAF Magazine. "[The instructor's] intervention within the airplane is much easier; the advanced avionics take the pressure off our instructors and give them time to pay extra attention to their cadets. The inner workings of the airplane are very similar to a very advanced airplane: rotating maps, radars, and a much more realistic feel in light of the reality that the cadets will face later on in their operational flights."
The advanced technology isn't the only advantage. In contrast to the Skyhawk, which was built as a combat airplane and not an instructional one, the M-346 was meant to assist pilots from the beginning of its initial design.
"From the beginning, the plane was designed for instructional purposes, and that makes it much easier to use," added Lt. Col. Avshalom. "As an instructor, it's hard for you to understand what your students think, what they see or don't see, where their minds wander, and what information they miss, making them reach certain answers and not others. On the other hand, in these airplanes, you can clearly observe the students, where they are looking, what bothers them, and what their next move will be."