Israel and the United States simulated war this week in a massive aerial drill that included dozens of F-16 fighter jets from both countries.

The exercise, known as Juniper Stallion, came as Turkey was holding its own aerial maneuvers with the US, which Israel was not a part of. The IAF holds about 10 joint exercises with the US Air Force annually, half of them in Israel.



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While Turkey no longer invites Israel to participate in exercises, the IAF was kicked out of a similar drill last October two days before it was scheduled to begin. But, Israeli jets still fly periodically out of the country for specific training missions, according to Capt. R., the IAF pilot who coordinates joint exercises with foreign militaries in Israel and overseas.

The Jerusalem Post recently reported that the IAF was looking for more training grounds in Europe.

The IAF, Capt. R. said, has significantly increased its participation in maneuvers overseas in recent years by close to 40 percent. Last week, a joint exercise with the Greek Air Force was cut short following the Navy’s raid on an international aid flotilla that ended with nine dead passengers. Capt. R. downplayed the impact a ban on Israeli participation in Turkish drills would have on the IAF.

“There are other places overseas where we can train,” he said. “These exercises strengthen the cooperation between the IAF and the foreign air force we are training with. As a result we better understand them and we can learn from one another in the end improving our operational capability.”

Maj. O., deputy commander of F-16 Desert Defenders Squadron based at the Nevatim Air Force Base in the Negev, said that his pilots had a lot to learn from their American counterparts who arrived with 16 F-16 fighter jets from Europe.

The drill, he said, simulated a war in which the Israeli and American fighter jets were fighting against an unnamed enemy state.

“Working with so many planes is something that we do not get to do so often,” Maj. O. explained.

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