Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan was awarded the Legion of Merit from Commander of the US Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz last week during a ceremony in Washington.
Nehushtan, who is scheduled to step down from his post at the end of the month, traveled to the US for a farewell visit and for meetings with Schwartz and other US military officials.
Nehushtan also met with US pilots who have flown on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and flew himself in the aircraft's simulator. Israel is scheduled to begin receiving the fist of the 20 fifth-generation stealth aircraft it has ordered in early 2017.
In the certificate given to Nehushtan with the medal, Schwartz wrote that the IAF has over the years shared intelligence on terrorist organizations in the region with the US.
"This information assisted the United States Air Force efforts in overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," Schwartz wrote.
Schwartz also hailed Nehushtan's decision to increase joint training which helped increase interoperability between the two forces.
"General Nehoshtan's exemplary performance, dynamic leadership and exceptional devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself, the Israeli Air Force and his country," the USAF commander wrote.
During his visit, Nehushtan also flew on the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that it has its eye on for search and rescue and covert operations behind enemy lines.
The IAF had originally considered using the V-22 to replace its aging fleet of Sikorsky Sea Stallion CH-53 transport helicopters – called Yasour in Israel – but due to the V-22’s smaller size it is being looked at as a complementary platform to assist in IAF search-and- rescue operations and in dropping special forces behind enemy lines.