A joint training exercise conducted by the Hellenic and Israel Air Forces took place in Greece this week. Israeli and Greek helicopters took part in simulated Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations, flying in a ‘coalition’ type operation as a joint force, as well as foes – training in a force-on-force scenario. This training included flights and landing in mountainous terrain and under changing weather conditions.
Aircraft taking part in the exercise included Israeli UH-60 Black Hawk (Owl) helicopters from the IAF Negev airbase Hatzerim and Apache (AH-64) helicopters from the “Ramon” Air Force base. The Hellenic helicopters participating in the exercise also included the Army Apache AH-64 alongside AS332 Super Puma and F-4E strike fighters of the Air Force.
The head of the Helicopter Air Division and the commanders of “Ramon” and “Hatzerim” IAF bases visited the training squadrons on Wednesday 13 October, and participated in the training, debriefing and conclusion of the exercise, which included chief representatives from the Hellenic Air Force.
In recent years the IAF has expanded international training activities, deploying combined task forces, strike packages, transport aircraft, search and rescue helicopters and other elements overseas. the IAF was routinely training in Turkey but since about 18 months, when the Turkish government closed its airspace to Israeli military flights, Israel has increased its training activities elsewhere – Sardinia, Greece and Romania being among the destinations recently mentioned in the press. In July 2010, on one of these flights, a CH-53D helicopter was crashed on a mountainous range killing six crew members.