IDF & US Military Hold Joint Aerial Exercise as Preparations for Possible Strike on Iran & Proxies - The Jewish Voice
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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

IDF & US Military Hold Joint Aerial Exercise as Preparations for Possible Strike on Iran & Proxies

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Edited by: Fern Sidman

The Israel Defense Forces has published footage on Wednesday of joint aerial exercises it held this week with the US military, simulating strikes against Iran and its regional terror proxies, as was reported by the Times of Israel.

During the drills, four IAF F-35i fighter jets accompanied four American F-15 aircraft through Israel’s skies, and an American KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft refueled several IAF F-16i fighter jets, the report indicated.

“This exercise tested the IDF’s abilities at gathering intelligence, researching and outlining targets, and making intelligence available to the operational forces,” the IDF added.

An Israeli F-35 “Adir” receives fuel from a Tennessee Air National Guard KC-135 as the aircraft make the flight across the Atlantic in 2016. (U.S. Air Force)

In a statement, the IDF said that during drills, which took place over Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, four IAF F-35i fighter jets, accompanied four American F-15 aircraft and an American KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft, refueled several IAF F-16i fighter jets.

The IDF said the drills also “simulated an operational scenario and long-distance flights.”

“The Intelligence Directorate conducted an extensive simulation that replicated a campaign against distant countries,” the IDF said, apparently referring to Iran. “This exercise tested the IDF’s abilities at gathering intelligence, researching and outlining targets, and making intelligence available to the operational forces.”

“These exercises are a key component of the two militaries’ increasing strategic cooperation in response to shared concerns in the Middle East, particularly those posed by Iran,” the IDF added.

In a statement, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that he had observed part of the drill from the IAF’s underground control center, as was reported by the TOI.

TOI also reported that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, and IAF chief Tomer Bar showed Lapid the various scenarios being drilled, and they discussed the Iranian threat, it said.

Israeli F-35i and American F-15 jets hold an exercise over Israel, November 29, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

“The strategic cooperation with the United States and other countries strengthens the IDF’s capabilities in the face of challenges in the Middle East, chiefly Iran,” Lapid said. “We have partners in the sky and on the ground, but we also have the right to act as we see fit and defend the State of Israel.”

“This bilateral exercise demonstrates CENTCOM’s commitment to regional security,” said U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, as was reported by the United States Air Force web site. “CENTCOM routinely demonstrates the ability to rapidly insert combat airpower into operations and exercises with our partners, and our ability to do the same across all domains decisively is a powerful deterrent.”

This exercise marks what is anticipated to be the first of several designed to improve bilateral aerial capability between the U.S. and Israeli air forces since the Joint Declaration on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership was adopted in Jerusalem earlier this year, the Air Force site reported.

The military training exercise also coincided with a World Cup match that was held last Tuesday between the U.S. and Iranian soccer teams — and ongoing questions about whether the U.S. will rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known casually as the Iran nuclear deal, according to a report on the Stars and Stripes web site.

The U.S. and several other nations created the JCPOA, which agreed to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s pledge that it wouldn’t seek nuclear weapons, stripes.com reported.  As part of the deal, U.N. inspectors would verify that Iran was holding up its end of the bargain.

Stripes.com also reported that former President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal when he took office, but President Joe Biden has said he wants to resurrect it. However, the U.S. has yet to rejoin the seven-nation pact.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Capt. Kayshel Trudell, a U.S. Air Forces Central spokeswoman, said: “The US Air Force is conducting fighter escort and refueling exercises over Israeli airspace as part of a partner nation integration event. Exercises like these are routine, and we regularly conduct them with coalition and partner nation air forces across the region.”

This September 1, 2014 file photo, shows a nuclear research reactor at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, AFCENT commander, noted the strong partnership between AFCENT and the Israeli air force.

“This exercise showcases our commitment to partnering with Israel to counter threats to regional security and stability,” Grynkewich said. “The Israeli air force provides tremendous deterrent capability and capacity throughout the Middle East region, and we’ll continue to build opportunities to improve our integrated defenses and ability to project combined airpower.”

“They are exercising fighter escort and aerial refueling,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated on Tuesday. “It’s also not something that’s unusual,” he added. The Department of Defense and the IDF have conducted many similar exercises in the past, but Iran’s continued progress toward a nuclear weapons capability makes this exercise more salient.

“Demonstrating the ability to conduct successful strikes against the Iranian nuclear weapons program sends a valuable deterrent message to Tehran. Americans and Israelis should significantly expand combined military exercises focused on ensuring the leading state sponsor of terrorism never acquires the world’s most dangerous weapon, said  Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy’s Center on Military and Political Power.

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