Israel Air Force Chief of Operations Brigadier General Amikam Norkin recently returned from an official visit to Europe where he strengthened ties between the IAF and its allies on the continent. Together they shared advice, trained together and planned future joint exercises. For years the Israel Defense Forces has paired up with foreign air forces around Europe to train together and build a partnership based on common goals.
U.S. Air Force at Ramstein Army Base, Germany
The IAF Chief of Operations landed in Germany to meet with senior officers from the U.S. Air Force. They discussed major points in the joint defense agreement between the Israeli and American air forces. Also on the table were the broader partnership between the nations and protocol for times of peace and war.
IAF and U.S. Air Force fly together in recent joint exercise.
The French Air Force has operational experience in dealing with challenges similar to those that Israel faces. In Paris recently, Brig. Gen. Norkin discussed short- and long-term strategy, the challenge of operating in urban terrain and using real-time intelligence with his French counterparts. Cooperation between France and Israel has expanded in recent years. The French Air Force has become increasingly interested in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – a field in which the Israel is a pioneer.
“France is a leading European country and cooperation between the air forces not only has a great influence on the two militaries but on the relationship between the two nations,” Brig. Gen. Norkin said. The IAF Head of Operations invited the French Air Force to train in Israel and, in return, IAF pilots were invited to fly in France for the first time.
The Italian Air Force and IAF have trained together a number of times. Most recently, Brig. Gen. Norkin went to Italy and met with the commander of the Italian Air Force at a Pisa airbase. He was given an extensive review of by the head of the local air force’s policy division.
The air force chiefs discussed future joint activities, including potential training exercises to coincide with the Italian Air Force’s acquisition of the C-130J Super Hercules – known in Israel as the Shimshon. Furthermore, discussions focused on Israel’s upcoming purchase of the Italian-developed M-346 Master training aircraft – to be known in Israel as the Lavie (lion).
IAF and Italian Air force in recent exercise
“Italy has become a major country for all things air force, in light of the introduction of the M-346 and all training programs associated with its production,” said Brig. Gen. Norkin. “The commander of the Italian Air Force sees the Israel Air Force as a true strategic partner.”
“The Commander of the Italian Air Force sees the IAF as a true strategic partner.” – Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin
The highlight of Brig. Gen. Norkin’s visit to Italy was a ride in the M-346 for a truly unmediated impression of the IAF’s latest acquisition.
The Hellenic Air Force and the IAF trained together in Greece in 2010. In Greece, the two air forces practiced rescue missions, training with the HAF both in the role of ally and enemy. The exercise also gave the IAF the chance to practice rescues while dealing with mountainous terrain and rapidly-changing weather.
Israel Air Force planes flying over the Greek hills
In 2012, two IAF pilots flew to Thailand to conduct exercises with the Royal Thai Air Force. The visit included training exercises and the pilots, Maj. Ziv and Maj. Ido, instructed their RTAF counterparts in live flight exercises. There were language and operational differences, but the IAF and RTAF crews cooperated together and were able to pass on a lot of lessons. ”I showed one of the pilots a basic exercise that would be used in an air to air combat scenario,” Major Ziv said. “…[A]lready during the next flight I saw him implement what he had learned—he had certainly grown.”
Thai and Israeli air force members.
The IAF has gone to Romania for joint training exercises several times, most recently in 2011. The country’s mountainous topography makes it a unique place for the IDF (Zahal) to train. The delegation commander of the last exercise, Lieutenant Colonel Yinon, said it is important to train in terrain different so different from Israel’s. ”Flying in areas with high mountains is essential due to the different arenas we must operate in to defend Israel,” he said.
The Romanian and Israeli Air Forces Joint Training Exercise in 2011