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Israeli Air Force to participate in first-ever joint drill with Britain’s Royal Air Force

The IAF has been invited to take part in the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at Coningsby airbase in Lincolnshire in September.

Aerobatic display of the F-15 fighter jet named as Ra'am, Hebrew for "Thunder," during the IAF (Israeli army Air Force) flight course 166 graduation ceremony in the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev Desert on June 23, 2013. Photo by Ofer Zidon/Flash90.
Aerobatic display of the F-15 fighter jet named as Ra'am, Hebrew for "Thunder," during the IAF (Israeli army Air Force) flight course 166 graduation ceremony in the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev Desert on June 23, 2013. Photo by Ofer Zidon/Flash90.

Israel’s air force is to take part in its first-ever joint exercise with the Royal Air Force in Britain in the most open level of cooperation between the two forces yet, The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.

The IAF has been invited to take part in the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at Coningsby airbase in Lincolnshire in September. While defense cooperation between Israel and Britain has been intensifying at all levels in recent years, the IAF has never been invited to participate in the exercise.

The RAF’s advanced Qualified Weapons Instructor course traditionally includes crew and aircraft from other allied air forces that train together with their British counterparts in complex combat scenarios. In 2018, the RAF invited German and Italian aircraft to take part in the exercise.

In a sign of intensified military and defense relations, a team of Israeli combat pilots last year held a joint training seminar with the RAF Typhoon aircrew at a base in Lossiemouth in Scotland, but on that occasion did not arrive with their own aircraft.

In 2017, the RAF and IAF completed three days of joint exercises to test sea-rescue capabilities in stormy conditions. The two air forces have also exchanged experience they gained operating the new F-35 stealth fighters.

Every two years, the Israeli Air Force hosts “Blue Flag,” an international exercise in which air forces from other nations travel to the Jewish state to practice their aeronautic skills.

Much like the American-hosted “Red Flag” drills, the exercise aims to forge bonds between multinational allies. In 2017, the “Blue Flag” exercise included aircraft and crews from the United States, Germany, Greece, India, Poland, Italy, and France.

The RAF is expected to participate in the exercise in 2020, which would be the first time they openly train in Israeli airspace.

In October, Britain’s Ministry of Defence agreed to a contract worth up to $52 million to purchase the MORPHEUS battlefield management application from Elbit Systems UK, a subsidiary of the Israeli defense giant.

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