The Israel and Italian air forces flew together on Friday to conclude a two-week exercise in Sardinia, Italy that included the first international training deployment of the Israeli ‘Eitam” early warning air traffic control system.
The Italian Air Force trained with several advanced aircrafts, including the Euro fighter Typhoon, AMX, Panavia Tornado and the F-16.
The exercise was conducted to keep IAF operational capabilities strong and to train its aircraft in large, unfamiliar airspaces and along with foreign aircraft. It was conducted according to a pre-planned, yearly training schedule, part of the extensive cooperation network between different IDF forces and other nations and militaries around the world.
“International training deployments are essential for the IAF to maintain pilot skills in extended range operation, under changing weather conditions and over unfamiliar areas,” an Air Force spokesperson said.
“The exercise helped pilots learn “to fly at low altitude over the vast uninhibited areas, perform precision navigation flights and practice cooperation with foreign NATO elements as part of coalition operations.”
The IAF has deployed in Sardinia for several years. In October 2009, Israeli Air Force F-15E and F-16I also deployed to Cagliari base in Sardinia to participate in a similar exercise. According to Lt. Col A., “The Golden Eagle” squadron leader, the international training program will incorporate more air forces in the future, and the Italian Air Force plans to deploy aircraft on training missions to Israel in the future.
IAF helicopters units were deployed to Greece and Romania for similar training several weeks ago.
Earlier this summer a CH-53 helicopter was lost over the Karpatian Alps, killing its crew of five during one such international training session.
In past years, the IAF was regularly training in Turkey, under the Anatolian Eagle and bilateral cooperation training agreement Israel and Turkey established in past years. However this cooperation ceased in the past year under government pressure following the deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey.