A senior official from the Israeli team who participated in the ‘Red Flag’ exercise refused to comment on reports that the IAF had participated in the exercise with the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan Air Forces.
By Kobi Finkler
An Israeli air force team returned today (Thursday) from the renowned multi-annual “Red Flag” aerial training exercise that takes place at the Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and sometimes sees the participation of aerial teams from foreign countries.
The Israeli team included F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, in addition to a refueling plane.
The exercise is big – to the degree that it strives to simulate a war-time situation. Foreign reports have indicated that this past exercise was unique in that it saw, for the first time, the concurrent participation of the Israeli Air Force as well as the air forces of Pakistan and United Arab Emirates.
A senior official from the Israeli team who participated in the exercise said today, “This is the sixth time that our team has participated. We had previously participated in the capacity of “visitors” or “observers,” but we have only been included as an official participating team since 2000. This is the second time our fuel planes are participating in the exercise, which is very significant.
“As far as we are concerned, the exercise is meant to train the air force in the best way possible and to consolidate cooperation with the US, to train on new turf in unknown territory. All the pilots who participated in the exercise did so for the first time,” the official said.
The official explained that the exercise “is very complicated. You need to plan the missions, understand the intelligence information, act in unknown territory according to prior experience and, of course, learn more. In the end, there is no substitute for this sort of training since we don’t have the option of building a training field of this scale. All our forces already know all the training fields in Israel; therefore it’s hard to diversify training.”
The official did, however, note that an upcoming so-called “Blue Flag” exercise was being planned on Israeli turf: “That’s an exercise which will take place on our turf, in which we will invite all the armies to us, therefore we have to prepare accordingly.”
The official refused to comment on reports that the Israelis had participated in the exercise with Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. “We train with whomever the Americans invited.”
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