Israeli, Italian Air Forces wrap up joint exercise

Italian Air Force official says two-week drill not connected to current events like strike against Iran.

December 17, 2011 19:58
1 minute read.

Air Force exercise 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)


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The Israeli and Italian Air Forces wrapped up two weeks of joint maneuvers on Friday, just a month after the IAF flew to Sardinia for similar drills. The forces practiced dog fights, bombing runs and long-range interceptions.

The two-week drill ended on Friday and was held at the IAF Uvda Base near Eilat. The Italians arrived in Israel with the Eurofighter and the IAF participated with its F-16 and F-15 fighter jets.

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The exercise in Sardinia in November made worldwide headlines since it was held as Israeli politicians began to speak openly about the possibility of launching unilateral military action to stop Iran.

On the sidelines of the recent exercise, a number of officers from foreign air forces traveled to Uvda to watch the maneuvers and discuss potential future joint training sessions with the IAF. The IAF is planning on holding a large-scale international drill in Israel in 2013.

“The quality of the drill and the cooperation will put the IAF on a whole new level,” a senior air force source said.

Italian Air Force Brig.-Gen. Enzo Vecciarelli said the drill was not connected to current events like a possible Israeli strike against Iran.

“The IAF is one of the best air forces in the world and we try to share knowledge with one another,” Vecciarelli said. “We are here just for the training and it is not connected at all to Iran.”

Brig.-Gen. Hagai Topolansky, head of the IAF’s Air Division, said Israel was looking to increase its training with foreign air forces and expressed hope that joint maneuvers would resume soon with Turkey.

“We were friends for many years and I believe that we will be able to return to holding joint maneuvers and hope that the diplomatic conditions will allow that to happen,” he said.

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