A strategic agreement incorporating all IAF & USAF cooperation channels for 2017-2018 was signed yesterday (19/7/17). The strategic document deals with acquisition, training, intelligence, safety, operation and medicine

Tal Giladi

A strategic accord between the IAF and USAF was signed yesterday by Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, IAF Chief of Staff, and Brig. Gen. Billy D. Thompson, Director, Regional Affairs, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Throughout the meeting, the two instituted the cooperation between the forces and signed off on a joint work program for 2017-2018.

Strategic Agreement with USAF Signed

Photography: Celia Garion

Close Allies
The cooperation between the IAF and USAF is based on mutual values and interests. The ASNR (Air Senior National Representative) document deals with various subjects, and serves as a yearly mechanism for the regulation of a mutual work program. “This is a steering committee meeting with the goal of creating a clear command directive and work program,” said Maj. Roei, Head of International Affairs Branch’s America Department. He went on to explain that both sides of the accord look to the past and the future. They look back to what they planned and what they achieved in practice; examine successes and failures; processes to begin and processes to terminate. “This meeting, which is held once a year, reveals a full picture of the cooperation between the forces. The condition for the success of our mutual work is mutual benefit. Each side examines where it can contribute and what it can gain”.

This is the second time the document has been signed since the official establishment of the cooperation in 2015, while the first signing meeting was held in a USAFE AFB in Germany.

Strategic Agreement with USAF Signed

Photography: Celia Garion

Planning for the Future
Among the various issues regarded in the 2017-2018 work program are the “Blue-Flag” joint international training exercise, which will be held in November and host a number of foreign air forces in Israel, and the IAF’s participation in the “Red-Flag” joint international training exercise, biennially held in the U.S. A deployment of American transport and aerial refueling aircraft for a mutual exercise with their Israeli counterparts is also planned, as well as participation in deployments to Europe.

The F-35 stealth fighters were a focal point of the discussion this year as well as last. As part of their arrival in Israel in order to sign the accord, the senior delegation also visited the “Golden Eagle” Squadron, which operates the “Adir” (F-35I) from Nevatim AFB. Mutual meetings between the Israeli “Adir” Squadron and its USAF counterpart, the 34th Squadron, Hill AFB, which has already announced IOC (Initial Operational Capability). “In mutual meetings we share information and insights. For the Israeli side, which has just established its first fifth generation squadron, consultation with someone while offering insights is beneficial,” added Maj. Roei.

Work groups made up of IAF Operational HQ servicemen and women, along with their U.S counterparts, were established in order to discuss matters regarding operation of force, such as control, aerial defense, and warning intelligence. Research-oriented cooperation in medicine will be strengthened: a SAR (Search-and-rescue) team will be trained in the U.S, and physiological information regarding the F-35 will be shared by the forces. Mechanisms for sharing insights and conclusions between the forces regarding safety and operation of the F-35 were also established. 

The main points of cooperation in maintenance and logistics were management, aircraft maintenance, advanced training for technicians and structural blast protection.

Strategic Agreement with USAF Signed

Photography: Maj. Roei

Meaning in Action
“The meaning of the physical signing of the accord by two generals is their agreement on the program and its content”, emphasized Maj. Roei. “The program is not consolidated in one panel, but over months of work. The forces’ team leaders consult with their subordinates, examine their area of responsibility and consider how they would like to involve their counterparts. They create a preliminary connection with their counterparts, and when they meet, each side exhibits its products to the other.”