An Israeli air force squadron equipped with Alenia Aermacchi M-346 “Lavi” advanced jet trainers is close to being declared operational, having already received nine aircraft from an eventual 30-strong fleet.

Israel’s first M-346 landed at Hazerim air base in the south of the country last July, and deliveries are continuing on schedule.

Being introduced as a replacement for the air force’s aged Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, the Lavi represents a “big revolution” in training, saysan air force Lockheed Martin F-16I pilot – identified only as “Maj E” – who is part of the initial team of instructors. […]