When circumstances are unique, training and simulation must match. This is exactly what the Israeli air force (IAF) is implementing in a new programme.
IAF pilots will train to improve their ejection and evacuation skills. One of the scenarios will be getting out of a helicopter downed over water that starts to sink – and all this while preventing hostile forces getting close until rescue arrives.
The training plan is part of a comprehensive reorganisation of the rescue procedures for fixed-wing and helicopter pilots
The improvement plan has been accelerated following the crash of an IAF F-16I “Sufa” on a training flight in July.
The fighter aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean, some 50km off the coast of the Gaza Strip.
The investigation revealed that an engine problem caused the crash, and led the IAF to hasten the plan to better train pilots in emergencies that involve ejection.
From now on fighter pilots will be trained in an ejection simulator – a railed catapult that brings the pilot to 4g. “It is much less that the g-force encountered in real ejections, but it is something”, one of the programme officers told the IAF magazine.
The IAF began to use the ejection simulator in the 1970s, but stopped because of safety reasons. Now the simulator will be used again – after a considerable upgrade.
IAF helicopters crews will also receive better evacuation training – especially in emergency landing on water.
In these cases the helicopter usually turns over, and the crew has to wait until it is relatively stable before they can get out safely.
The new simulator will allow the crews to train in getting out of the sinking helicopter.
As the IAF operates in hostile environments the crews will also be trained in “rescuing while shooting” – a situation in which the crew has to get out of the sinking rotorcraft while shooting to suppress any attempt to kill or capture them until help arrives.
The IAF is performing combat missions almost every day, either by manned aircraft or unmanned air systems.
The need for well-rehearsed rescue and evacuation techniques is very real.