British Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jet 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/SAC Neil Chapman)
The Israeli Air Force will take part in its first ever joint exercise with Britain’s Royal Air Force in September, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
Formerly named Exercise CQWI (Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor), the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at RAF Coningsby air base in Lincolnshire is the British air force’s largest collective training exercise.
The drill – the culmination of the RAF’s advanced Qualified Weapons Instructor course – has seen the participation of several foreign air forces in the past, including Saudi Arabia in 2015, Germany in 2016 and Italy in 2018.
With Israel’s participation in Cobra Warrior marking the first time IAF jets will fly in British airspace, RAF pilots are expected to take part in Israel’s largest international air exercise, Blue Flag, in 2020. It will be the first time RAF jets will train in Israeli airspace.
Both air forces operate the F-35 stealth fighter jet, with the RAF announcing it had achieved Initial Operating Capability last week.
With growing military ties between the two countries, a group of Israeli combat pilots took part in a joint training seminar with RAF Typhoon pilots last year, and in 2017, RAF Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier met with IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and visited several IAF bases.
“This is a significant rise compared to previous years and we’re grateful for that. We have performed mutual visits of aircrew members from both countries’ fighter divisions as well as joint training with the participation of IAF and RAF search and rescue squadrons. Alongside these, we maintain daily coordination of their flights in Israel’s skies and we are happy to provide them with a secondary base if necessary,” a senior IAF officer was quoted by the military as saying at the time.
“Both forces foresee a productive future and are interested in deepening this relationship. The RAF is a global air force, and holding mutual exercises and learning from them is important.”
Defense cooperation between Israel and Britain has increasing over recent years, with Israel being the third-largest arms provider for the United Kingdom providing weapons systems such as the Watchkeeper WK450 drone, the Exactor ground-based missile, and the Litening targeting pod carried by RAF Typhoon and Tornado aircraft.
Elbit, one of Israel’s largest defense companies is also the main partner in the UK’s new Military Flight Training System, the Chronicle reported.
According to Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK has also sold $466 million in arms and military hardware to Israel over the past five years, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, components for submarines, military aircraft ground equipment and more.
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