Israel Hosts International Air Drill

OVDAT, Israel, Nov. 25 (UPI) --
A joint international drill involving fighter jets from Israel, the United States, Greece and Italy is under way in Israel, the Israeli air force said.



Some 60 fighter jets including F-16s and F15s are participating in the week-long Blue Flag exercise hosted by Israel for the first time, the Israeli air force said. The exercise began Sunday at the Ovdat air force base in southern Israel, and will continue until Thursday. In addition, observers including military attaches and representatives from foreign air forces are viewing the drill, the air force said.



The exercise is proof Jerusalem and Washington are cooperating on all levels, Israel Radio quoted U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro as saying while watching the exercise Monday.



"The aim of the exercise is to practice and improve our operational capabilities in striking enemy targets, working together as one team," an Israeli air force pilot participating in the drill told Channel 10. The visor of the pilot's helmet covered his face to hide his identity.



The goal of the exercise is to examine general air capabilities and not to focus on any specific operation, the Israeli army said. Channel 10 noted all those participating in the drill were asked specifically not to mention Iran to avoid speculation the exercise is linked to some kind of military preparations ahead of a possible strike on the Islamic Republic, the report said.



The exercise was planned more than a year ago, the army said.



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