Their aircraft may belong to the instruction world and not to the combat world and their "Flight Wings" may be newer, but the "Flying Tiger" Squadron didn't step down and went to battle. The aircrews of the "Valley" Squadron trained with the young pilots and WSOs from the "Flying Tiger" Squadron.
The "Flying Tiger" Squadron personnel that, amongst other roles, trains the next fighter pilots of the IAF, met for a thrilling battle with the pilots and WSOs of the "Valley" Squadron, one of the most operational fighter jet Squadrons in the IAF.
For two days, the aircrews from each squadron battled in "dogfights": the F-16 C/D "Barak" (Hebrew for Lightning) versus the M-346 "Lavi" (Hebrew for Lion), despite the fact that the young aircrews from the "Flying Tiger" Squadron will probably never experience real time operational combat flying the "Lavi".
"We know our aircraft, know how it maneuvers, its weaknesses and its strengths", said Lt. Z, from the "Flying Tiger" Squadron. "The exercise made us think differently, observe the ‘Barak’'s performance and learn how we can use our advantages against another jet in order to win".
"An Especially Exciting Experience"
In the beginning it seemed like the outcome of the exercise was predictable. One side consisted of experienced pilots and WSOs, whereas the other side consisted of young pilots who still aren't operational. But the unique battle brought many surprises and mutual learning for both sides.
The "Barak" fighter jet has been in service for 29 years and has participated in hundreds of operational sorties, be they attacks or interceptions and its pilots are more experienced. Opposed to it, stood the "Lavi", a young instruction aircraft which brought new unique capabilities and improved the level of training in the IAF. It can fly far, high and for a long time and permits flight in complex scenarios.
"It was an excellent exercise for us. We were surprised to discover the high level of capabilities the young pilots and the ‘Lavi' demonstrated. These are two different kinds of planes. The ‘Lavi' is quicker and has different characteristics from the ‘Barak' we fly. We had to make an effort in order to match our flight style and understand how to fly together while training, which made the experience exciting", said Lt. Yuval, a pilot in the "Valley" Squadron.
Lt. Z added: "It was an important exercise that benefited both sides, you could distinguish a learning process as the exercise progressed. We saw different jets in the sky and were exposed to the performance of operational pilots and it was beneficial for them too - they flew against a small jet which is harder to see, which flies and maneuvers in a different way".
This round's winners: The "Valley" Squadron. The "Flying Tiger" Squadron's response: "It's the participation that counts".