American and Israeli pilots will carry out joint exercises in Israeli skies this week, the army confirmed on Monday.
The joint drill will occur near the southern city of Eilat at the Uvda Air Base, which hosts squadrons training in the Negev and has an advanced training center, which trains aircrew in numerous exercises.
Uvda is also the base of the “Flying Dragon” or “Red” Squadron, which plays the role of enemy aircraft in exercises.
There are also teams that operate “enemy” ground targets such as missile launchers and radars, and infantry soldiers who act as terrorists during these training scenarios.
The “Flying Dragon” Squadron flies F-16 fighter jets, and according to Haaretz, the Americans have already sent over a number of F-15 fighter jets.
The two allies have flown in several joint drills in the past few years, most recently in March during the Iniohos 2017 exercise held in Greece.
During the exercise, Israeli jets flew alongside those from the United Arab Emirates, Italy and the United States, which sent 12 F-16C Fighting Falcons and an estimated 220 support personnel to participate.
“Multinational training engagements such as these strengthen our relationships, maintain joint readiness and interoperability, and reassure our regional allies and partners,” read a US army statement.
Just a week before Iniohos, the IAF tested Cypriot air defense during a three-day joint military exercise with Cyprus named Onisilos-Gideon.
The IAF has also taken part in the Red Flag aerial exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for the past two years and will host a large-scale multinational air exercise this coming November at Uvda Air Base.
Over 100 aircraft and hundreds of support crew from the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy are expected to partake in the two-week-long Blue Flag drill. The crews will land in Israel in the fall for the drill, aimed at honing their skills in planning, targeting and coordinated command and control.
According to Defense News, this year’s drill is designed to simulate a range of realistic engagements, and participants will likely conduct hundreds of sorties in Israeli airspace to practice air-to-air combat, ground strikes against both moving and stationary targets, and maneuvering amid threats posed by shoulder-launched missiles and surface-to-air batteries which can block aerial access to aircrew.
Russia has delivered the advanced S-300 and S-400 air defense systems to Syria, and according to Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik, the decision to purchase the S-400 surfaceto- air missile systems from Russia is due to be finalized soon.
The S-300 and S-400 air defense systems are able to be deployed within five minutes and are capable of engaging multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles up to 380 kilometers away at an altitude of 30 kilometers, reaching virtually all of Syria as well as significant parts of Israel and other neighboring countries.