Israel and the U.S. have signed an important strategic air force agreement, the Israel Air Force revealed Monday. The ASNR (Air Senior National Representative) agreement, signed last week, covers a full range of cooperation between the forces under one roof by building a joint annual work plan addressing these issues with the goal of promoting relevant interests of each force, the IAF said.
According to Brigadier General Ya'akov Sharabani, the IAF's Attaché in Washington, the agreement “is a significant milestone in the cooperation between the forces, realized for the first time as signed agreement.”
"What makes the ASNR document special is how it codifies everything that the IAF and USAF has been doing together and identifies new areas where we can cooperate,” said Maj. Gen. Lawrence Martin, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs. “In that sense, the ASNR is not only a very practical framework for moving forward the issues both of our air forces care about, but it also clearly serves as evidence of the deep and committed friendship between us.”
The process that preceded the signing event lasted nearly two years and began with the visit of General Mark Welsh, UASF (US Air Force) Commander, to the IAF in August 2013. The event earlier this week marked its completion as the agreement was signed by Bg. Gen. Amikam Norkin, IAF Chief of Staff, and Maj. Gen. Martin.
“During the second visit, the commanders spoke of the importance of cooperation and the need to deepen it,” said Sharabani. “We translated this vision into operational paper which provides an exact definition of that endeavor.”
Twelve teams of American and Israeli officers were formed to deal with the common interests of the forces. “We share common threats and both face the challenge of ensuring we have the best air forces in a budget-constrained environment that often requires us to make tough choices about modernization priorities,” said Martin. From the teams are some that deal with joint exercises, absorption of the F-35 stealth jets in the IAF, airborne medicine and flight safety.
“In the near future we will be practicing together as part of the 'Red-Flag' advanced aerial combat training exercise in America, American teams will deploy in Israel for the 'Blue-Flag' aerial combat training exercise and we will also become the first foreign force to take part in the comprehensive 'Southern Strike' aerial combat training exercise,” said Sharabani. “We have a good, fruitful cooperation between the Israeli and American Air Forces. Only few countries have agreements similar to this one.”