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German Air Force in Israel Release date 26.11.2018
As part of the deepening of the cooperation between the Israeli and German Air Forces, crew exchanges from the two forces' Fighter and Air Defense Divisions have occurred over the past few weeks
Michal Ben Ari & Noa Rokni | Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

This is the third year in a row that crew exchanges have been held between Israeli and German fighter squadrons. This time, the Israeli side was represented by the 101st ("First Fighter") and the 105th ("Scorpion") Squadrons operating "Barak" (F-16C/D) aircraft, while the German participated with "Eurofighter Typhoon" aircraft pilots. "We do this in order to learn from each other, see how our Israeli friends train and what things they do differently", said Capt. Daniel, a fighter pilot in the German Air Force.

Israeli Air Force aircrew members recently returned from a visit to the German Air Force base in Nörvenich, which was held as part of a routine IAF international cooperation plan. "The opportunity to visit our German partners exposed me to a different air force and the way they train and think", said Maj. N', a pilot at the 101st Squadron.

"Now is our opportunity to join you and maybe even learn some lessons, take them home and improve our training", said Capt. Jens, who is also a fighter pilot in the German Air Force. Main points of reference during the exercise included modes of operation, flight professionalism and debriefing.

Constructive Criticism
The crews drilled two scenarios with the German pilots sitting in the "Barak" aircraft's backseat. "In the first scenario we drilled low-altitude flight and low-altitude combat against SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) batteries", elaborated Capt. R'. "It was imperative that we trained using training bombs seeing as the German Air Force never trains this way".

In the second scenario the aircrews drilled dogfights in pairs. "Feedback from the Germans is necessary", added Maj. N'. "It makes me consider the 'Barak' aircraft's strong points compared with other aircraft as well as the fields in which we should improve".

"The German Air Force's mode of operation is different than the IAF's", explained Capt. Daniel. "We have more rules and regulations, while the Israeli Air Force thinks in a more operational manner". The two air forces' aircrew members also flew in the 420th ("Fighter Simulator") Squadron's simulators.

After the sortie, the four pilots sat down to debrief. "We begin by debriefing the results of the sortie – this is dissimilar to the German Air Force, where the debrief touches upon several topics with the mission placed considerably low in the list of priorities". In the IAF, the debrief is meant for spotting out errors and understanding how to prevent them in the next sortie.

Mutual Air Defense Training
Crew exchanges with the German Air Force didn't occur just in the Fighter Division: several weeks ago an IAF Air Defense Division delegation visited Germany, and a German delegation also recently visited Israel. Last week, the delegation visited "Yahalom" (Patriot) and "Iron Dome" batteries as well as the Air Defense Academy. They saw how Air Defense Division combatants are trained in Israel, learned about the division's battalions and its activity, and conversed with "Yahalom" weapon system combatants.

"Beyond mutual learning, the visit's goal is to strengthen the ties between the Air Defense Division and its German counterpart while also tightening the cooperation between the air forces", emphasized Capt. Fadi Tuil, Commander of the 138th Battalion's Operations Department and the leader of the delegation. "Such cooperation eventually contributes to the strength of the two countries' relationship".

The German delegation showed an interest in the Air Defense Division's operational experience. "One of the things which interests the Germans most is our constant preparedness", said Lt. Col. Tal Kaduri, Head of the IAF Air Defense Division's Cooperation Department. "Sitting and watching a screen for hours in preparation for a potential interception isn't easy. We have to be ready for any threat, 24/7. When holding visits such as this one and sharing information, the Germans earn operational knowledge which will assist them in case they ever have to handle situations similar to the ones we do. Seeing as most of their activity isn't operational, they hold experiments – as a result, we are able to learn from the exercises they hold and the munitions they develop".

Future Cooperation
"I hope that we continue our cooperation with the German Air Force – that they join the 'Blue Flag' exercise and that we continue to perform crew exchanges", concluded Maj. N'. "They are a professional force and we have a lot to learn from them". Capt. Jens agreed: "I hope you learned something new about flight in Germany and about our culture in general. I wish we could fly with you every month".