The Israeli Air Force began a joint exercise in Greece with the air forces of the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Italy, the United Kingdom and Cyprus also participated in the exercise.
A number of IAF F-16 jet fighters, along with dozens of planes from the other air forces, are participating in the annual Iniohos exercise.
This is not the first time that the IAF has taken part in the exercise in Greece and the UAE’s participation was publicized, even though Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the UAE.
This year, however, Israel does not appear on the Hellenic Air Force website that gives details about the exercise. It does not appear on the list of participants, nor does Israel’s flag appear in the group photo and Youtube video clip in which the flags of all the participating countries are shown next to an array of the countries’ planes.
It isn’t clear why Israel’s participation is being hidden; in past years its participation was widely publicized. There is a hint of Israel’s involvement, however, in the patch worn by the pilots on their flight suits, where Israel’s flag can be seen along with the flags of the other countries.
Last November the air forces of eight countries took part in the international Blue Flag exercise at Uvda Air Base in southern Israel. In addition to the IAF, the air forces of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Greece and India participated. It was the first time the air forces of Germany and France had taken part in air exercises in Israel.
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At the time, the IAF said that despite the operational importance of the exercise, the real achievement was a diplomatic one. As for the exercise in Greece, the same is probably true, but the IAF plans continue the tradition of participating in this exercise.