Tens of Israeli and American fighters learned to fly together, concluding the joint annual Juniper Falcon exercise this weekend.

Israeli and US Air Force pilots concluded the two-week long Juniper Falcon joint training exercise last week, which trained Israeli and American aircrew members and taught them to work together, despite cultural and professional differences.

Around 30 fighter jets participated in each drill, including Barak F-16Cs and F-15 fighter planes from the Israeli Air Force’s 69th Squadron and American F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets.

This deployment of US forces is of strategic and tactical importance and its goals are mutual learning, strengthening the relationship between the forces, and strengthening regional deterrence, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) said.

“Alongside cooperation on the diplomatic level, we learn from these exercises on the tactical level, and enrich both side’s knowledge,” explained Maj. Itamar, Head of the International Training Exercises Department in the Air Division.

Throughout the exercise, the participants faced multiple challenges, such as a changing arena, various threats and the need to react as quickly as possible to any change in the air.

“In the meetings that preceded the deployment, each side presented the relevant threats to its country and the means at its disposal,” described Maj. Ido, Deputy Commander of the “Hammers” Squadron, which flies the “Ra’am” (Thunder) F-15I fighters.

“The Americans have a slightly different culture. If we wouldn’t have been familiar with it, we could have been surprised in some cases,” shared Lt. Amit Bar El, Commander of the Ouvda base’s control tower. An American aircrew member was posted in the tower throughout the deployment.

“Throughout the exercise we were exposed to the world of debriefing, infrastructure and flight scenarios in foreign training exercise. The Juniper Falcon exercise was a good rehearsal for flying in English,” shared Lt. Col. Nadav, Commander of the “Knights of the Twin Tail” Squadron.

“The language gap is our main challenge because we are flying in our home court, in contrast to the foreign force which needs to get used to a different environment, but the countries’ different rules and the use of a second language created a challenge,” he said.

This exercise precedes the “Blue-Flag” training exercise in November, when Israel will host combat pilots and support crews from seven countries. It will be the largest training exercise in IAF history and the biggest the IAF has led in a decade.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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