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Shrugging Off Turkey Isolation Efforts, Israeli Air Force Preps Trilateral Air Exercises

The IAF had for years trained with Turkey’s air force, until Turkey cut off relations with Israel and began making concentrated efforts to prevent the Jewish state from participating in security forums and multilateral military exercises.

Ankara was criticized for seeking to isolate Israel at the expense of Israeli-European interoperability, and Jerusalem subsequently began to explore a series of bilateral and multilateral exercises outside frameworks Turkey could affect.

Israel’s navy for instance recently participated in trilateral search and rescue exercises with Cyprus and Greece.

Last August the Israeli Defense Forces and U.S. European Command ran two weeks of bilateral naval and air exercises military exercises.

Now the Israeli Air Force is prepping for wider, trilateral exercises. Next month Israel will assemble nearly 1,000 personnel from three nations for two weeks of air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises modeled on the U.S. Air Force’s annual Red Flag military training exercise. Dubbed Blue Flag, the drill will take place at the Ovda training range in the Jewish state’s south.

The identity of the participants is being withheld on security grounds, but Defense News notes that there are plenty of candidates:

Aside from the US Air Force, sources here cited Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Poland as possible participants. All have trained with Israel in the past two years. Since losing Turkey as a joint training partner in 2009, the Air Force has cultivated cooperation with Cyprus and Greece. In the past four years, both nations have repeatedly offered their airspace for long-range patrols and aerial refueling. The most recent involved a weeklong drill this month.

[Photo: Darrell I. Dean, U.S. Air Force / Wiki Commons]