Israeli military aircraft will be flying over the UK in a joint exercise for the first time ever this week, as part of a three week multi-national coordination effort with Britain’s Royal Air Force as well as German, Italian and US planes.
For UK-Israel defence cooperation, Exercise Cobra Warrior marks a landmark moment, and the training based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire is expected to last until 20 September.
The five nations possess some of the most advanced fighters in the world and the RAF described the exercise as “high intensity large force tactical training” involving around 50 aircraft, which the Israeli delegation said would be a great help.
“We are happy and proud to participate in the Cobra Warrior exercise,” said Brigadier General Amnon Ein-Dar, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) head of training.
“This is the first time IAF fighter aircraft are deployed to and flying in Britain. The deployment will help improve IAF readiness and capability. We view this exercise as the highest standard of training, an excellent opportunity for mutual learning and bolstering cooperation between partners.”
The exercise “develops the tactical leadership of aircrew and supporting elements within a complex air environment” and allows the teams to develop, plan and practice tactics and procedures during war-like scenarios.
Israeli aircraft have reportedly been in action over Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in recent weeks, and Britain this week welcomed the input of other nations as a learning opportunity.
“The RAF welcomes the participation of our Air Force colleagues from other nations,” said Group Captain Robert Barrett. “We welcome the opportunity to train alongside all of the participating nations’ forces on this challenging exercise.”
The UK and Israel already spend hundreds of millions of pounds purchasing each other’s defence equipment, and next year the military partnership looks set to solidify, as Israel hosts RAF pilots taking part in Blue Flag 2020, Israel’s largest international air exercise. It will be the first time that RAF jets will have trained in Israeli airspace.
Several Israeli combat pilots took part in a joint training seminar with RAF Typhoon pilots last year, and in 2017 senior RAF personnel toured Israeli bases.