Israel, the US, and Greece joined forces for an international naval and aerial training exercise, led by the IAF “Defenders of the West” squadron
A month has passed since the Israeli Navy missile boat departed for Crete. Thousands of miles away, an “Arleigh Burke” type American destroyer and a Greece frigate and submarine headed also toward the island. For three straight weeks the countries joined forced for the “Noble Dina” training exercise, which began in Crete and ended off the shores of Israel.
Alongside the naval forces were Israeli and foreign aerial forces, led by the “Panther” naval patrol helicopters. The naval training exercise which emphasizes cooperation between the three countries is also a symbol for joint work of naval and aerial forces.
The “Panther” helicopters, operated by IAF “Defenders of the West” squadron, are suited for landing on “Sa’ar 4.5” type missile boats and equipped with radars adapted for working above sea, generating a broad marine status report for the ships.
“Leading the training exercise is trivial for us. Working closely with the Navy during routine and in times of emergency is unique for our squadron”, explained Major Meir, squadron deputy commander.
Training, Learning and Tightening the Connection
After two months of preparations and precursory sailing days to the island, all of the participants joined for the big opening, followed by joint debriefings. The fleets practiced different scenarios, the main one being fighting submarines.
While the naval forces carried out their missions at sea, the “Panther” helicopters flew over and provided a status report of what lies ahead.
“We practiced joint scenarios such as locating objects in the water”, said Major Meir. “We also worked individually with the Israeli ship and practiced landing and takeoffs from its deck”.
At the end of the first part of the training exercise in Greece, the teams set sail back to Israel and conducted the rest of the training exercise at its shores. This part was particularly significant for the Israeli air crews since they had the chance to practice some scenarios with which they were never experienced. “In Israel we practiced for the first time landing on an American ship with a sloped landing platform we are not used to work with. It was a great and very interesting experience for us”, said Major Meir. “In addition, the Hellenic Air Force operated the ‘Sea Hawk’ helicopters, so we got to learn a lot about its capabilities and activity”.
Apart from the “Panther” helicopters, other IAF forces from the Transport and Intelligence Formations took part.
“The training exercise is of national importance, as part of the high-level cooperation between the countries”, concluded Major Meir. “As a squadron, we also improve from year to year”.