Israel hosts Italian Air Force for joint training exercise
Two-week exercise latest in a series of drills that Israel Air Force has conducted with foreign air forces.
The Israeli and Italian Air Forces on Friday completed a two-week joint training exercise involving fighter jets from both nations.
Three Israeli fighter jet squadrons (including F-16A, F-16C and F-15I aircraft) and two Italian fighter jet squadrons (including advanced Eurofighter and veteran Tornado aircraft) participated in the exercise.
The exercise was conducted at the Uvda Airbase in the southern Negev Desert.
"Within the framework of the joint training, we are successfully conducting in-depth practice and types of training at the highest capabilities," said Israel Air Force Brigadier General Hagai Topolansky.
The joint training exercise in Israel took place two months after the Israel Air Force carried out a long-range training drill with the Italian Air Force at the Decimomannu Airbase on the island of Sardinia.
Around three weeks ago, Israel hosted F-16s of Greece’s Hellenic Air Force for a joint exercise. The IDF did not publicize that exercise in order to not further exacerbate strained relations with Turkey, Greece's rival.
In a recent effort to strengthen its cooperation with NATO allies, Israel has been carrying out large-scale drills in foreign skies, as well as hosting foreign air forces to train in its training facilities.
On Thursday, the IDF announced it is forming a command to supervise "depth" operations, actions undertaken by the military far from Israel's borders.
Onoing concerns over Iran's contentious nuclear program serve as the backdrop for the IDF's annoucement, with both U.S. and Israeli officials noting that, while diplomatic efforts were the preferred tool with attempting to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, no options were "off the table."