The Israel Navy has participated in joint naval exercises with the French Navy for the first time in almost 60 years. Two Israeli missile boats, INS Eilat and INS Kidon, drilled with French warships in training for a large number of scenarios. These included joint training with helicopters, naval gunnery target practice, practicing defense from missile attacks on the ships, as well as treating mass casualties and evacuating the wounded.
In the first part of the exercise, the Israeli ships docked two weeks ago in France in the port of Toulon on the Mediterranean Sea. During the visit to France, the commander of the Israeli navy, Vice Admiral Eli Sharvit, met with his French counterpart, navy Chief of Staff Admiral Christophe Prazuck. The exercises lasted a few days before the ships returned to Israel.
A few days ago, French warships arrived in the port in Haifa to conduct the second part of the exercise in Israeli waters, and a large number of French aircraft also participated in the exercises.
The exercise was part of the Israeli navy’s annual training program and similar exercises are planned to take place soon with other foreign militaries. The importance of the exercise is not just in the training itself but is also important to improve bilateral ties, the IDF Spokesman’s Department said.
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The French Navy operates in the region mainly on NATO missions, during which they gather intelligence and patrol.
“The situation in the Middle East brings foreign fleets here and we coordinate with during both times of routine and times of war," said Col. Ronen Hajaj, the head of the Israeli navy's training command. The recent exercise included joint gunnery exercises at the same targets, helicopter rescue drills from ships and destroying a large small suicide craft swarming to attack the larger ships, said Hajaj. “The French have been here for a long time and see us as partners in the region.”
Sharvit said that today, given the great changes in the region, the Israeli navy must have a global view. “Cooperation with Western navies is essential in order to strengthen Israel’s security in the maritime sphere. This is why the joint exercise with the French fleet, which added new and important knowledge and capabilities to both sides is another milestone in strengthening the Navy from the aspect of international cooperation,” said Sharvit.
This is a unique example of military cooperation that contributed greatly to the learning process and experience of both navies, and increased the preparedness of the Israel Navy’s missile boat squadron, said the IDF Spokesman.