US Air Force Lt.-Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the head of Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT), visited Israel for the first time, meeting senior Israeli officials and visiting the Israel Air Force unit that operates the Arrow missile defense batteries.
His visit, which lasted two days, “was part of the extensive cooperation between the Israel Air Force and the American Air Force,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
During his visit, Grinkevich was welcomed by an honor guard at Nevatim Air Base and visited the IAF’s 140th Golden Eagle Squadron which flies the F-35i Adir stealth fighter jets.
He then visited the Palmachim Air Base south of Tel Aviv and met with the 166th Fire Birds Squadron, which operates the Elbit Hermes 900 unmanned air vehicles and the Sword Shield" unit of the Air Defense Division that mans the Arrow missile defense system.
Grinkevich also visited the IAF’s headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv and flew alongside IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Timer Bar to the Ramat David Airbase in the south of the country to visit the 105th Scorpion Squadron which flies F-16s.
IDF expanding cooperation with US Air Force
"The visit of the AFCENT Commander is an opportunity to continue strengthening the professional cooperation between the IDF and the USAF,” Bar said. “The connection between the two forces is evidence of the strong and courageous relationship between the two peoples, and a key component of national security."
The US military realigned Israel from US European Command to CENTCOM in September 2021.
The move to CENTCOM is believed to not only simplify the cooperation with American troops in the region but can also create the potential for a regional coalition with Arab countries that have normalized ties with Israel against shared threats posed by Iran.
Since the move, Israel has taken part in numerous drills with CENTCOM and AFCENT. In July, senior CENTCOM officers visited Israel for the first executive-level progress check and held a number of meetings to discuss future exercises, defense agreements, and shared security concerns.
“As the threats in the region change, so has the approach AFCENT takes alongside regional partners to address these challenges.”Lt.-Gen. Greg Guillot, former AFCENT Commander
Former AFCENT Commander Lt.-Gen. Greg Guillot, who participated in the July meetings, was quoted as saying that the relationship between the forces continues to grow.
“AFCENT’s theater security cooperation, both with the IDF and other regional partners, has expanded and evolved over the last year. As the threats in the region change, so has the approach AFCENT takes alongside regional partners to address these challenges.”
He said that issues such as countering the threat posed by UAVs as well as integrating air and missile defense capabilities “are too complex for one nation to address alone.”
Israel’s move to CENTCOM has also seen growing military cooperation with the countries that signed the Abraham Accords in 2020.
Intended to symbolize the expanding military cooperation between the US, Bahrain, the UAE and Israel, the dive was initiated by Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain Eitan Na'eh along with his American counterpart in the Gulf state.
The dive was carried out from a US Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft and saw some 40 paratroopers take part.
Earlier in the week, a delegation of 25 IDF soldiers and officers headed by the IDF's OC Depth Corps Maj.-Gen. Itai Veruv arrived at Manama for undisclosed talks on further military cooperation.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.