Two months have passed since the F-16I Division was grounded following the crash last July, and now they have returned to flying. As part of a gradual process, last week, F-16I squadrons held their first training sessions at the Ramon airbase since the grounding. “It’s like an athlete who needs to get back into shape”
After two months of being grounded, the F-16I planes are back in the air: the first training session since the abandonment of a plane by two aerial team members last July was held in the F-16I squadrons at the Ramon airbase. “Its return to flight is a complex process, like an athlete who needs to get back in shape”, says Major Dor, Deputy Commander of the “One” squadron at the Ramon airbase. “So, we held refresher-tutorials and updated our training program to return to operational readiness”.
The training opened with an exercise of the basics, in which the teams practice air-to-air combat. Afterwards, they work on complex scenarios, using smart munitions and even practice aerial refueling. “The return to flying is done in steps”, explains Major Roy, Deputy Commander of the “Bat” squadron at the Ramon airbase. “Flight proficiency is refreshed from one training session to another, as well as coping with stress of missions in the air. It is important to get the soldiers, both regular and reserve, in the aerial teams back to these issues gradually”.
The return to the routine wasn’t just felt in the air: the Technical Division of the F-16I squadrons is rushing, in a short period of time and with great professionalism, to prepare the planes for the flights, after two months of vacation. “On the first day of the flights, lightening could be seen in the eyes of the technicians”, adds Major Lior, a commissioned technical officer in the squadron. “The soldiers wanted to get back to the job, complete their mission, and do it with satisfaction and pride”.
Last July, an F-16 plane crashed in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, while the aerial team members parachuted and were rescued to safety. Following the accident, the Commander of the IAF ordered a grounding of the F-16I Division and an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. Apparently, a technical malfunction in the engines of the planes is what led to the plane crash.