U.S. Deploys F-15s to Israel to Train With Israeli Air Force

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A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pops a flare while departing after refueling. August 30, 2015
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pops a flare while departing after refueling. August 30, 2015Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sandra Welch

The U.S. and Israeli air forces will conduct joint exercises over Israel over the next two weeks, with a number of American F-15s already having arrived, military sources told Haaretz on Thursday.

The exercise will take place out of the Ovda air base in the south, the home of the so-called Red Squadron, which simulates enemy air forces.

“An international exercise in cooperation with the American air force will begin in the coming days,” the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s Office said. “The exercise is based on the annual training plan.”

The Israel Air Force has held a raft of exercises with foreign counterparts; about a month ago it trained over Greece with the air forces of Greece, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Last year IAF pilots took part in the Red Flag drills in the United States, in which the air forces of the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Spain also took part.

In November this year a large exercise called Blue Flag will be held in Israel with countries including India, the United States, Poland and Italy.

About two years ago the IAF signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. Air Force; the sides are working together in integrating the new F-35, joint exercises, aviation medicine and flight safety.

Also, the IDF is advancing legislation to enshrine military-cooperation agreements signed by Israel, Greece and Cyprus. Greece and Cyprus are key partners of both the air force and navy. The agreements, which are the subject of draft legislation that has recently been circulated, would regulate the legal and logistical aspects of military cooperation.

The legislation sets security conditions for guests in the other two countries, along with the terms under which any unfortunate incidents would be investigated. The legislation also provides that any publication related to joint military activity must have the advance approval of all sides.

Implementation of such agreements requires the military to seek legislation.

In February 2016, Israel and Cyprus signed a cooperation deal following a similar pact in 2015 with Greece. A similar agreement with the United States was implemented through legislation in 1993 two years after it was signed.

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