IAF to take part in drill in Germany, a first since outbreak of COVID-19

IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin also set to fly to Germany to meet with his counterpart

German and Israeli national flags  (photo credit: REUTERS)
German and Israeli national flags
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Air Force will take part in its first overseas drill since the start of the coronavirus pandemic later this month, conducting joint military exercises with the German Air Force.
IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin will also land in Germany at the start of the two-week-long drill, which will involve fighter squadrons practicing air battles, long-range sorties as well as aerial refueling.
He is expected to meet with his German counterpart Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz. Norkin has met with Gerhartz several times before, including in November during Israel’s Blue Flag exercise.
During the drill, IAF troops will also participate in a flyover over the Bavarian city of Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich as well as visit the Dachau Concentration Camp with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and visit the Olympic Village in Munich where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by Palestinian terrorists in 1972.
IAF pilots will also take part in the Multinational Air Group (MAGDAYs) which is organized by the German Air Force with the participation of different Air Forces from NATO allied nations in northern Europe.
Germany has committed to organizing MAGDAYs since 2019. The drills take place four times a year, with the last time taking place between June 22-25th with the participation of Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
The participation in the drill in Germany marks the first time that Israeli troops have been allowed to leave the country since the coronavirus pandemic broke out earlier this year. All international drills were canceled in March except for a small number of air force drills which took place solely in the air with no ground participation.
But several months after the order was given and despite the ongoing pandemic, according to the IAF website it is “fully maintaining its operational fitness and capabilities” and “conducts continuous joint exercises, including international cooperation, in order to maintain air superiority in the Middle East and maintain its operational fitness.”
On Monday F-35s from the IAF and US Air Force under the US Central Command (CENTCOM) took part in the “Enduring Lightning 2” exercise, the second one since March.
The drill saw Israeli Adir F-35s aircraft from the IAF’s 140 Golden Eagle Squadron train alongside F-35s from the USAF’s 421st fighter squadron, as well as the IAF’s 122 squadron which operates the Nahshon Gulfstream G-500 aircraft and was responsible for conducting aerial air traffic control.
Taking place in southern Israel, F-35 pilots from both countries “faced various aerial and ground strategic threats” and “worked together to locate and neutralize the threats,” the IAF said, adding that unlike the previous exercise pilots also trained to operate communication systems between the two.
All planning and debriefing were held virtually using military platforms instead of face-to-face due to the concerns surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Even during times of national crisis, the IAF conducts and will continue to conduct international exercises that are significant to strengthening future military cooperation and in defending Israel’s skies,” the IAF said.