Israel's air force set for first-ever joint exercise with the RAF in Britain

The IDF has been invited to the annual Cobra Warrior exercise in Lincolnshire


Israeli Air Force aircrew and fighter jets are to take part in a joint exercise with the Royal Air Force in Britain for the first time. 

While defence cooperation between the two countries has been intensifying at all levels in recent years, this will be the most open level of cooperation between the two air forces yet.  

The RAF holds its annual Cobra Warrior exercise in September at Coningsby airbase in Lincolnshire.

It is the culmination of the advanced Qualified Weapons Instructor course, and usually also includes crew and aircraft from other allied air forces who fly together with the British teams in complex combat scenarios.  

German and Italian aircraft took part in Cobra Warrior 2018 and, for the 2019 exercise, Israel has been invited to take part.  

Recent British-Israeli defence cooperation has included the training of British personnel on the use of Israeli weapons systems acquired by Britain: the Watchkeeper WK450 drone, the Exactor ground-based missile and the Litening targeting pod carried by RAF Typhoon and Tornado aircraft. 

Israeli defence company Elbit is also the main partner in the new Military Flight Training System which trains all new RAF pilots.  

Last year, a team of Israeli combat pilots visited their counterparts at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, where they held a joint training seminar with RAF Typhoon aircrew, but on that occasion did not arrive with their own aircraft.  

Recently, the two air forces have also begun sharing the experience they gained operating the new F-35 stealth fighters. 

Earlier this month, the RAF announced that its F-35s has achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC), a status which means the can begin carrying out routine operations with the aircraft. Britain is the fourth country to achieve IOC on the F-35, after the United States, Israel and Italy.  

The IAF holds its own international air exercise, Blue Flag, every two years at Uvda airbase in the Negev. Last year, it included aircraft and crews from the United States, Germany, Greece, India, Poland Italy and France. 

The RAF is expected to take part in Blue Flag 2020, which would be the first time they open train in Israeli airspace.  

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