Israel Air Force to Participate in Joint Exercises in U.S.

Britain’s Royal Air Force, other allies, will join ‘Red Flag’ simulated battles in Nevada skies

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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An Israeli Air Force F15I fighter jet releases flares during an acrobatics display, June 28, 2012.
An Israeli Air Force F15I fighter jet releases flares during an acrobatics display, June 28, 2012.Credit: AP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Air Force is wrapping up preparations for the possibility that it will participate in Red Flag combat training exercises in the U.S. state of Nevada this summer.

The IAF is currently planning for about a dozen of its planes to take part in the exercises, which involve the air forces of the United States and its allies, including Britain’s Royal Air Force. A final decision on Israeli participation has not yet been made by the Israel Defense Forces, presumably due to budgetary considerations.

In addition, no date has yet been posted for this summer’s iteration of Red Flag on the website of the hosting USAF base, Nellis.

Nevertheless, the participating IAF squadrons and crews have already been selected and the air force is already practicing for the flights to Nevada.

The last time the IAF took part in Red Flag was in 2009, with F-16I fighter jets from the Bat Squadron, out of the Ramon air base. In addition to the opportunity to train with the American military in simulated high-intensity air-to-air combat facing simulated air defense systems, the IAF values the opportunity offered by the flight itself to the distant base. While the planes will make a number of stops for rest and refueling, the flight will be good training for long-distance missions, the IAF stresses.

In November the IAF hosted a similar exercise, dubbed Blue Flag, with the participation of the air forces of the U.S., Greece and Italy.

According to the IAF, its purpose was to practice “a high-powered confrontation with a state entity that has a powerful army.” During the exercises, a high-ranking IAF officer said Israel’s long-distance flight capabilities were improving constantly.

In a response, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that the IAF plans to participate in Red Flag, adding that these multinational exercises contributed greatly to the air force’s operational capabilities.

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