The Israeli and Italian Air Forces on Friday completed a two-week joint training exercise involving fighter jets from both nations. The exercise involved pilots flying F-16A, F-16C and F-15Is from three Israeli squadrons, pitted against Italian Air Force pilots flying Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornado strike fighters. (Photos: courtesy of Nehemia Gershuni.) This was the second the Italian Air Force is conducting with the Israel Air Force in the Airbase in , near Eilat, flying over the Israeli air/ground and air/air training range in the southern Negev desert. A similar exercise took place two months ago at the Italian Air Force at the Decimomannu Airbase in Sardinia.
Israel operates ansquadron flying F-16s from the base in Ovda. For the recent exercise the squadron doubled the number of aircraft operated against the visiting aircraft, adding F-15I and F-16C fighter planes from northern IAF bases. A large instrumented combat range located north of the base is scattered with targets simulating active surface-to-air missile sites, radar emitters and electronic warfare threats realistically represented surface based threats and targets, offering modern strike fighters an excellent training environment.
The exchange is beneficial for the Israel Air Force as it offers the Israeli opportunities an important opportunity to train in, against unfamiliar combat aircraft they could meet at war. It also opens vast and unfamiliar training areas for the Israeli pilots, in neighboring countries, offering the Israeli pilots realistic and challenging missions at extended ranges – missions they canot perform realistically over their small home land.
For foreign air forces the training in Israel and with the reputable Israel Air Force provides an opportunity for pilots to gain unique experience in more realistic combat conditions they are used to in their training areas, particularly concerning electronic combat, self protection and engagement of surface-to-air weapons.