Pilots from Israel’s Air Force (IAF) and the United Arab Emirates have been flying alongside one another as part of an 11-day Greek air force exercise joint with other European states that began on Monday. The US, Italy and Greece are also participants in the drill.
The ‘Iniohos 2017’ exercise, which flew from Andravida Air Base in Greece, consists of “complex air operations” according to the Hellenic Air Force, and is designed to mimic realistic engagements, practise in-air combat, and perform ground strikes against moving and stationary targets.
US Air Force spokesman Captain Robert Howard stated: “Multinational training engagements such as these strengthen our relationships, maintain joint readiness and interoperability, and reassure our regional Allies and partners”.
The drill marks the second time that Israeli and UAE air forces have flown together, with the first in August 2016.
An official IDF statement said that Israel “trains regularly to maintain operational competency and to prepare for any potential challenge”. Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel praised the joint exercise, stating that “Israel is in a peak year of cooperation with foreign armies in Israel and abroad”.
Israel has no formal diplomatic ties with UAE, although unofficial contact has been made with the Gulf States. In November 2016, Israel established a diplomatic mission to the International Renewable Energy Association in Abu Dhabi.
In November 2017, The IAF will host over 100 aircraft in a two week exercise together with the US, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy.