The introduction of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 "Lavi" advanced jet trainer aircraft into the Israeli air force's inventory will enable the service to reduce the time of its pilot training course by six months.
Speaking to the Israeli air force magazine, the commander of the fighting training department at the service's flight academy – identified only as Lt Col Gal – said the M-346 will enable the unit to certify a fighter pilot in 18 months, by flying only on the new trainer and then progressing to an operational squadrons. Meanwhile, combat weapon operators who fly in the rear of two-seat combat aircraft, will complete their instruction on the Lavi within six months.
Currently, new Israeli fighter pilots conduct the advanced stage of their training using two types: the Douglas A-4 and Lockheed Martin F-16A/B.
Israel's M-346 fleet will be operated by its air force's "Flying Dragon" squadron, located at the service's Hazerim air base. Its first of an eventual 30 examples was rolled out at Alenia Aermacchi's Venegono site in Italy during March.