Refused permission to fly in Turkish airspace, the Israeli Air Force continued
to create alliances with additional air forces in the region, wrapping up a
two-week exercise with the Italian Air Force on Friday on the island of
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A number of squadrons of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets from the
IAF’s Nevatim and Tel Nof bases participated in the maneuvers, which focused on
low-altitude flights, dogfights and longrange interception. Air force sources
said the teams were allowed to fly over a large portion of the island,
equivalent in size to Israel.
It was the first time the IAF had sent one
of its new airborne warning and control system (AWACS) planes, known as Eitam,
for an overseas training exercise.
The Italian Air Force used several
advanced aircraft, including the Eurofighter Typhoon. It was important for
Israel to train with the Eurofighter since it is part of the Saudi Arabian
As part of the exercise, teams trained at low
The “red team,” played by the Italian side, impersonated the
enemy so the sides could stimulate interceptions.
The teams also flew at
low altitudes. Low altitude flying is important for missions that require
avoiding detection by enemy radar.
Facing threats far away from Israel
such as Iran, the IAF has increased its overseas exercises in recent years,
particularly amid Turkey’s refusal to allow Israel to deploy its fighter jets in
Turkish airspace since Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in
Last month, combat helicopters from the air force completed a
four-day joint exercise with the Hellenic Air Force in Greece, and in July, an
IAF Yasour helicopter crew died when their aircraft crashed during a joint
training exercise. Six IAF servicemen and one Romanian soldier were killed in