Pakistan, Israel taking part in joint aerial combat exercise in US
The Israel Air Force will be taking part in the Red Flag advanced combat training exercise beginning Monday in the United States, along with additional aerial forces including those of Pakistan and the Emirates.
The advanced training exercise, during which fighter jets simulate combat involving coalition forces, will take place at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada.
This is the second year in a row in which the IAF is participating in Red Flag.
In recent days photographers in the area, near Las Vegas, have filmed Israeli, Spanish and Pakistani aircraft in advance of the joint exercise. In addition, a transport plane belonging to the United Arab Emirates was also photographed, indicating that, as reported, that country’s air force will also participate in the exercise.
The Israeli plane that will be used in the exercise is the F-16I (the “Sufa,” or Storm). In footage from Nevada one can see that IAF jets belonging to three different Sufa squadrons were sent to the United States. Air and ground crews will also participate.
The Red Flag exercise is scheduled to end on August 26.
The IAF has for several months been planning its participation in the event, which necessitates a long flight from Israel to the base in Nevada, with a number of intermediate stops and aerial refueling.
Last year the air forces of the United States, Israel, Singapore and Jordan participated in the Red Flag. At the time it was reported by foreign sources that Israeli planes even refueled the Jordanian fighter jets in the air, on the way to the U.S.
“The Red Flag is the biggest and best simulation of war in the world,” one IAF officer said at the end of the 2015 exercise.
All of the squadrons participating are assigned to “red” and “blue” forces. They practice intercepting other aircraft, attacking targets, rescuing pilots and engaging in aerial activity under the ostensible threat of ground-to-air missiles.
Haaretz received no response when questioning Israel Defense Forces sources two weeks ago about the possible participation of Pakistan and the UAR in Red Flag.
At the time the IDF Spokesman’s Office said only that, “The air force trains regularly in Israel and abroad in order to maintain operational fitness for various operational plans. The Red Flag exercise involves unique and high-quality training. When the IAF was invited to participate, it accepted the invitation.”
The source added that the same squadrons participating in the exercise this year did not participate last year.