Pilots from Israel and the United Arab Emirates are flying alongside one another as part of Iniohos 2019, Greece’s largest annual military exercise. The drill started on April 1 at the Andravida Base in the Peloponnese and will end on April 12.
The United States, Italy, Cyprus, and almost the entire Hellenic Air Force (HAF) fleet are taking part in the drill, which consists of complex air operations and also includes naval and ground forces.
“The objective of the exercise is to provide realistic operational training in conditions that resemble a complex, multi-threat combat environment to maximize the operational capabilities of the Air Force,” read a statement released by the HAF.
As part of the exercise, Israeli pilots took part in a formation of seven aircrafts, consisting of F-35s, F-4, M-2000 and Tornado jets flying over central Athens last week.
“Given the high level of the HAF personnel and our capability to conduct exercises involving a variety of weapon systems within one of the largest exercise areas in Europe, the INIOCHOS exercise tends to become one of the most competitive exercises in Europe and the Mediterranean region, and provides participants with a high level of training and a unique experience of participation,” HAF observed.
The annual drill is not the first time Israeli and UAE pilots have flown in the same military exercise. In August 2016, the two countries participated in the Red Flag exercise hosted by the U.S. Air Force in Nevada, along with representatives from Pakistan.
While Israel and the UAE have no formal diplomatic ties, the increased threat posed by Iranian expansion in the region has led some Gulf monarchies to engage with the Jewish State.
In October 2018, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Oman in more than 20 years. That same month, Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev paid an historic visit to the UAE to watch the Israeli delegation compete at the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam.
[Photo: Nemesis HD / YouTube]