Starting in January, Israel Air Force (IAF) cadets will take to the skies in new Lavi advanced trainers, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 jets slated to replace A-4 Skyhawks by 2016 in Flying Tiger Squadron 102.

Five of 30 aircraft on order arrived here in recent months, along with the first of four ground-based training systems to be co-located at the service’s Hatzerim base in the Negev desert.

Over the past year, an initial group of seasoned IAF pilots was trained and certified at Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 facility near Varese, Italy. Follow-on groups began training in Israel last summer and, once certified, will supplement IAF cadres of certified instructors. […]