The cooperation between the IAF and USAF continues to tighten: an additional strategic agreement for the deepening of the cooperation between the forces was signed last week, with the crowning glory of the work plan being cooperation regarding the F-35
A strategic agreement between the Israeli and U.S Air Force was signed last Thursday by Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, Chief of Air Staff and Maj. Gen. Lawrence M. Martin, Jr., the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs. In the meeting, the two institutionalized the cooperation between the forces and signed a mutual work plan for 2017. “This is a meeting of great strategic importance with our most significant partner. In the meeting we promoted all of the cooperative fields with the USAF, while emphasizing the cooperation in preparation of the arrival of the ‘Adir’ (F-35I) in December”, said Brig. Gen. Kelman.
The cooperation between the Israeli and US Air Force has been a deep one for years. The U.S is considered Israel’s closest ally and therefore, this document is so special. The document, Air Senior National Representative, includes many fields and is an annual mechanism for the arrangement of a mutual work plan. “The meeting is extremely important”, stated Maj. Roei from the IAF International Affairs Branch. “It indicates the strength and tight connection between the forces in light of the mutual interests and values and promotes mutual subjects”.
As stated, the purpose of the agreement is to promote the subjects at the heart of the mutual needs and interests of the forces and its function is to outline mutual work principles, strengthen the cooperation between the forces and deepen the connection between the commanders. “The main subject of this year’s meeting if the F-35. This is the first time that both forces are integrating an aircraft at the same time”, shared Maj. Roei. “The meeting determines to some extent what the cooperation in this subject will look like in the future and is a breakthrough in a field that is alien to both sides”.
This is the second year the agreement is signed, with the pre-singing process of the first agreement lasting about two years and began with a visit of General Mark A. Welsh III, then USAF Commander, as a guest of the IAF in August of 2013. In October 2015, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander, met with General Welsh in the U.S. In the meeting, the two signed a document which outlined a directive for the commanders to sign the current agreement.
The signing of the agreement is a result of a long process: as a part of the agreement work, teams were established and led by officers from both forces, which dealt with the mutual topics of interest. “We work in different work teams and deal with every topic, from mutual exercises, through aerial medicine and to flight safety”, said Maj. Roei. “Among the products of the cooperation there is operational knowledge sharing, future directions of action and large-scale exercises such as the ‘Blue-Flag’ which was held last October and the ‘Red-Flag’ to which an IAF force is expected to travel soon”.