Twelve IAF planes took part in the exercise, which was planned several months ago, including five F-15i planes, five F-16i planes, a Boeing 707 refueling plane and a Hercules that flew teams and technical equipment.
In the exercise, the Israeli and Italian Air Forces practiced dogfights between the two armies. The exercise was held at the Decimomannu Air Base on Sardinia, which has an advanced system for documenting and studying aerial combat exercises, making it possible to examine the effectiveness of one’s combat doctrine after the exercise.
Israeli Air Force sources said that the exercise was held as part of the IAF’s readiness for coping with long-range threats, as well as keeping the IAF planes operational. The cooperation between Italy and Israel began about a decade ago and, since then, joint training is carried out from time to time by the two air forces.
The tendency in the Israeli Air Force in the recent period has been to expand the IAF’s participation in international exercises. This is with the aim of practicing long-range flights and battles against pilots from other countries, who employ different combat doctrines than the IDF.
For example, three months ago the IAF participated in the Red Flag exercise in the U.S., in which long sorties, refueling and dogfights were practiced. The exercise was declared a success by Israeli officials, and that Israeli pilots usually achieve good results in exercises of this kind.
In addition, the French weekly L’Express reported this past May that the IAF carried out an exercise over Gibraltar, at a distance of 3,800 kilometers from Israel. The report stated this showed Israel was practicing the possibility of a strike on Iran.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com