The “Southern Strike” training exercise of the American armed forces took place over the last two weeks. For the first time, a foreign Air Force participated – the IAF (Israeli Air Force)
Talya Yariv | Translation: Ofri Aharon & Ohad Zeltzer-Zubida
The IAF has continued to strengthen its cooperation with the most powerful forces in the world: this month in the Golf Port base in Mississippi, “Southern Strike”, a multi-branch training exercise was conducted, in which the Israeli Hercules C-130 and C-130J heavy transport airplanes participated.
For the first time ever, a foreign air force participated in the training exercise that was led by the Air National Guard – the Israeli Air Force. Representatives from multiple American armed forces partook with 1,000 participants and 100 airplanes, such as the F-22 and F-35. The C-130J, Israel’s newest heavy transport airplane, deployed for the first time outside of Israel to join the training exercise.
“We see the exercise as a significant quantum jump in the cooperation with the American forces”, shares Brig.Gen. Lihu HaCohen, Nevatim Airbase Commander, who also participated in the training exercise. “The majority of the exercise included joint work between the Americans and Israelis, which allowed us to enjoy the close mutual work that included flying and parachuting American forces. This all falls into our definition of strengthening the strategic cooperation with the United States, demonstrating our capabilities and of course, mutual learning”.
Heavy in foreign lands
The main goal of the training exercise is to strengthen the joint efforts with infantry forces, thus the Tactical Transport Division essential missions were practiced – parachuting of soldiers, supplies, evacuation of wounded and flown supplies.
“We are starting this mission with the need and courage to start new things”, shared Lt. Lior, Commander of the Cargo Unit Wing. “Throughout the exercise we carried out a number of missions we had never practiced before. We directed ourselves the same way the Americans did and according to the way they load and fly to familiarize ourselves with new techniques”.
For two weeks, the C-130 and C-130J flew alongside the Americans airplanes and asides from training multiple scenarios, the cooperation between the forces was strengthened. “The difference between training in Israel and training in the United States is the work in unfamiliar territories. When we train in territories we are less familiar with, we are given the chance to have a meaningful practice that resembles operational events in which we cannot completely prepare for”, explained Maj. Roei.
For the Israeli Air Force, the training exercise contains its most complex missions, such as flying over mountainous terrain, flying in low altitude, during the day and night. Few of the missions practiced were IAF firsts, one of them was a C-130 Hercules aerial refueling of American CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter and multiple American infantry soldiers from numerous units flying in Israeli C-130 and C-130J.
“We want to strengthen our cooperation with the US and showcase our abilities”, shared Major Hagai, head of the international cooperation exercises unit in the Air Division.
“Our main goal is to improve the IAF’s operational capability through quality training that as a result of we will return to Israel ready to complete the missions we practiced. We take part in the exercise in order to learn new things from the Americans and practice challenging missions”.