Israel to join US, UAE, Pakistan in Red Flag

The Red Flag exercise, in existence since 1975, will bring the cold-shoulder nations together for air force exercises in Nevada.

Rachel Kaplan,

F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
US Air Force

On August 15-26, the Israel Air Force (IAF) will reportedly join the US, UAE, and Pakistani air forces for the prestigious Red Flag 16-4 exercise in Nevada.

Israel has no formal relations with the UAE or Pakistan, though the latter has promised diplomacy if Israel were to find a Palestinian solution which satisfies them.

The Red Flag exercise is the US Air Force's (USAF) "premier air-to-air combat training exercise," according to their site. During the exercise, allied countries join US fighters in aerial dogfights between a red team and a blue team, working to complete their missions while SAMs and ground-to-air defense mechanisms work to stop them.

Israel has been preparing for the most recent Red Flag exercise for months, sending eight F-15s and F-16s in multi-hop trips to the Nellis Air Base, in Nevada. Israel also sent a "Ram" type refueling jet.

The US will reportedly showcase its new F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, which have fought competitively against the F-16 in the past, although it outstripped the F-15 in previous exercises. Israel has ordered 33 of the F-35 "Adir" jets, to be delivered in December, making it the only Middle Eastern country to control the advanced war planes.

The Israeli pilots will be challenged to complete a mission in a foreign language, on foreign soil, facing anti-aircraft equipment like those used by Hezbollah and Iran.

The exercise will include dozens of different kinds of aircraft, including fighter jets, refueling planes, helicopters, aircraft, and unmanned intelligence drones.

Israel first participated in the Red Flag exercise last year, which reportedly included Jordan. "There were Arab pilots there too, and pilots from the various branches of the United States military and other countries," former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said last year of the exercise.

Last year's exercise reportedly involved the US, Israel, Singapore, and Jordan, and saw training for aircraft interception, attacking targets, rescue missions, and flying while dodging surface-to-air missiles.




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