IAF pilots flew alongside their counterparts from US Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) in a joint training exercise last week dubbed Desert Falcon, simulating airstrikes and dogfights.
The drill saw the IAF’s 119th Bat Squadron fly F-16I fighter jets along with the 122nd Nachson intelligence-gathering Gulfstream G550 fly alongside American F-16 jets from the 55th Fighter Squadron against the IAF’s 115th “Red Squadron,” which simulated enemy jets and helicopters.
The drill took place out of Uvda Air Force Base, and the jets mostly flew over the Negev Desert.
“The Israeli air teams flew shoulder to shoulder with American teams and simulated joint responses to aerial threats and strikes on targets, through education, cooperation and mutual growth,” the IDF said Sunday in a statement.
“The exercise represents an important milestone in the strengthening of international-strategic cooperation between Israel and the American air force, and it contributes to the readiness of our forces,” it said.
The drill with the US pilots was the latest in a series of exercises carried out between Israeli forces and their American allies since Jerusalem was moved from EUCOM (European Command, which currently focuses on Russia and its threats against Europe and NATO) to US Central Command’s area of responsibility in January.
The move to CENTCOM is intended to simplify cooperation with US troops in the region and to create the potential for a regional coalition with Arab countries that have normalized ties with Israel against shared threats posed by Iran.
Increased cooperation with CENTCOM and the Gulf States is expected to give Israel a leg up in terms of dealing with the threat posed by Tehran.
Since the move, Israeli troops have held several drills with CENTCOM, AFCENT and US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in the South, including one in November with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the Red Sea.
Israeli jets have also escorted US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers through Israeli airspace as they headed toward the Persian Gulf. Commonly called “The Bone,” the bombers flew over key areas in the Middle East accompanied by allied aerial forces from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.