The first flight should take place on Tuesday and will last about 40 minutes, as the plane will make its way over the south of the country. “The American pilots flying it over told us everything was working fine, ” said Yotam, whose recent days have been spent going through possible scenarios with the plane. “So far, it’s all been virtual, but that’s how we make sure that the timetables are synchronized, that the communications equipment is up and running. It’s a final trial run for our tools, so nothing will surprise us.”
Criticism has been lobbed at the purchase of the sophisticated new planes. Its high price ($80 to $90 million per plane) relative to the advanced F-16 warplanes, its flight range and its limited ability to fly undetected by enemy radar were all critiqued.
Twenty-five-year-old Capt. Guy, who will also fly one of the F-35s, will become the youngest pilot in the IDF and one of the youngest to fly what is considered by many to be the most advanced plane in the world. Despite these honors, Guy’s voice and demeanor did not reveal much excitement. “I felt satisfaction when I was told I had been selected to be in the squadron, ” he said. “We didn’t undergo any tests, but there were special discussions on the matter, a selection process and recommendations from the squadron commanders in which I had recently served.” He did express an interest in the position, however, saying, “Of course I had expectations and had calculated my chances of being accepted.”
Capt. Guy also took the time to enumerate the qualities a pilot in his new squadron, stating they “are first and foremost a vision and the ability to make it happen, because this plane changes a lot of perceptions in the Air Force, which we plan on spreading.” He continued by saying that “It’s less about flying while using a stick and throttle and fights in mid-air, and more about analyzing the endless data that the plane produces using its many sensors. The plane can draw its conclusions and offer you a recommended course of action, so your ability to split your attention has to be good.”