Greek-Israeli joint air force exercise held at Larissa AB Greece, Oct. 21-26th

 Greek-Israeli joint air force exercise held at Larissa AB Greece, Oct. 21-26th

November 4, 2012

 

According to a laconic announcement of the Hellenic Air Force, “from Sunday, 21 to Friday, October 26, 2012 and in the context of the Military Cooperation between Greece and Israel for 2012 a joint training exercise took place at the 110 Combat Wing / Air Base Larissa in Greece”.

 

Certainly this short statement has more connotations: with this exercise the level of the military cooperation between Greece and Israel goes another step as it is the third time that Israeli jet fighters landed in a Greek Air Base after the beginning of the military cooperation between the two countries in 2008. A cooperation that also included joint naval drills during which Israeli corvettes where hosted in Salamis, the main Naval Base of the Hellenic Navy in August 2012. This third time Israeli warplanes were hosted by the HAF shows the growing confidence between the two air forces and the high level of cooperation between them.

 

More precisely 10 Israeli F-16I Sufa aircraft came from 3 squadrons and specifically from Tayeset 119 “Bat” (Ha ‘Atalef) [# 413, # 448, # 491], Tayeset 201 “The One” (Ahat ) [# 857, # 868, # 880] and Tayeset 253 “Negev” (Ha ‘Negev) [# 407, # 445, # 476, # 478] together with a large number of pilots and support staff. Throughout the visit Israeli aircraft were carrying Conformal Fuel Tanks, large 600gal wing tanks, training AIM-9L missiles and the Litening II (targeting) and LANTIRN (navigation) pods with the aid of which they performed night missions on a daily basis.

 

The Greek – Israeli cooperation started with the exercise “Glorious Spartan” in May 2008, continued with the exercise “Minos” in May 2010 during which Israeli jet fighters were operating from air bases of the HAF in Crete and which was stopped because of the “Mavi Marmara” incident. The exercise “Morning Wind”, ie the second part of the exercise “Minos” 2010 concerning Combat Search and Rescue, took place in October 2010 in Andravida AB and the Peloponnese region in Greece. Shortly after, the HAF participated in the operations for extinguishing fires in Carmel in Israel earning the gratitude of the Israeli public opinion and helping not only in humanitarian terms but also in purely bilateral political level improving relations between the two countries in an unprecedented level. During the summer of 2011 the second CSAR exercise took place in the 110 CW at Larissa, Greece. In November 2011 it was the turn of HAF’s 337 Squadron to visit the Ovda Air Base in Israel. Later, the Hellenic Navy replaced the TDK during the naval exercise “Noble Dina” in March 2012, followed a few months later with a joint naval exercise in the Myrtoo Sea in Greece. The last link in the chain came one month earlier with a joint air exercise in Crete.

 

During the last four years amid the economic crisis, wars in Libya and Syria, the ongoing political and diplomatic tensions in the wider Eastern Mediterranean, the continuous improvement of Greek – Israeli relations remains perhaps the only constant that is in favor of both countries. The strongest military “player” in the region is regularly exercising with the Greek Armed Forces, certainly learning from them. The aim is that the Greeks also learn from their Israeli counter parts, not only in the tactical level, but also in the strategic and political level. In the midst of an extremely fluid international situation, in a difficult multivariate equation that best describes the strategic situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek- Israeli cooperation is becoming a valuable support for both countries.

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