Israel's defence forces have completed the preparation of the nation's next five-year plan, with one of its main pillars an increase in the number of unmanned systems to be deployed by the air force.
The five-year "Gideon" structural plan also focuses on increasing the number of Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports in Israel's fleet, and seeks a fast integration of the Lockheed F-35.
The planned increase in the number of unmanned systems is of great significance to Israel's defence industry, which will be required to meet the air force's operational requirements. The service recently began describing its growing fleet of unmanned air vehicles as "remotely manned aircraft" (RMA). This is to reflect the growing importance of unmanned platforms in a variety of increasingly complex missions, and places the equipment at the same level of importance as manned platforms.
Due to the complexity of operating unmanned systems and their payloads, the Israeli air force also has extended the period of training that its RMA operators receive. This currently includes six months of basic training, plus another three months of operational training.
To further enhance the quality of training, the service has recently received an advanced simulator for its Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1 ("Shoval") at Palmachim air base. This will enable crews to prepare for complex missions involving the long-endurance type and manned platforms, and to use new and upgraded payloads that are carried by the unmanned platform.