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Arie Egozie

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) today started a joint exercise with the German Air Force. This comes after the latter announced in a press release that its commander had invited the IAF to participate in the exercise during his previous visit to Israel, with the exercises to be carried out in the west of the country. Relations between the two air forces are part of a growing cooperation between the IAF and other “Regional” and European airforces including those of Greece and Italy.

Unstable region

While this cooperation may be based on the need to learn from each other, sources point to the fact that the German Air Force has been part of the coalition that helped the U.S forces in Syria to fight the last strongholds of the so-called Islamic State organisation. Those who claim that the cooperation between the air forces is not just for “mutual learning”, say there are two reasons for the buildup of these coalitions, the threat posed by Iran and the fact that Turkey is building broader relations with Russia and China.

Moscow and Ankara are among the main power brokers in Libya’s conflict while supporting opposing sides. Russia backs the eastern-based forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey has helped the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) repel Haftar’s attempt to storm the capital. Turkey continues to violate the arms embargo on Libya by sending arms and mercenaries to support the Government of National Accord despite international warnings. According to Italy’s ItaMilRadar website, which specialises in tracking military flights over the Mediterranean, a Turkish Air Force Lockheed C-130B left al-Watiya Air Base for Turkey earlier this month and two days later departed from Libya to return to Turkey. According to the Asharq Al- Awsat newspaper, reports have stated that the new shipment included four drones and advanced medium and light weapons, including M4 rifles.

Beginning

The official statement from the IAF said that as part of the exercise, six IAF F-16 C aircraft will land at the Norvenich base in western Germany, alongside two Boeing 707 aerial refuelling aircraft and two special mission G-550 aircraft. During the exercise, dozens of planes will simulate scenarios of air-to-air and air-ground missions.

According the IAF, the training is an opportunity to perform a joint tactical exercise that simulates a wide range of threats, combining advanced technology as well as performing quality aerial training in an unfamiliar arena. “The training is high quality and very unique because we train in an unknown area and in an unfamiliar terrain route,” Lt. Col. E.is quoted in the official release  “We will fly in different areas than those of the State of Israel, in front of different flight platforms and with different laws.”

“The flights are conducted according to NATO’s combat doctrine and not according to our combat doctrine, which produces challenging training for the cockpit pilot and navigator,” Lt. Col. E. continues. “The exercise is reminiscent of war due to uncertainty and difference compared to training in the State of Israel.”