US, Israeli air forces execute fighter escort, refueling exercise

  • Published
  • By Capt. Michelle Fletcher
  • 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central)

Ninth Air Force (U.S. Air Forces Central) F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and KC-10 Extenders participated in a bilateral exercise with Israeli air force F-35 Lightning IIs and F-16s over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea Nov. 29 and 30. The exercise focused on fighter integration and refueling operations.

“This bilateral exercise demonstrates CENTCOM’s commitment to regional security,” said U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command. “CENTCOM routinely demonstrates the ability to rapidly insert combat airpower into operations and exercises with our partners, and our ability to do the same across all domains decisively is a powerful deterrent.”

This exercise marks what is anticipated to be the first of several designed to improve bilateral aerial capability between the U.S. and Israeli air forces since the Joint Declaration on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership was adopted in Jerusalem earlier this year.

The United States maintains an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, and AFCENT will continue to work with its Israeli Air Force counterparts to continue strengthening our interoperability and enhance collective tactics, techniques and procedures.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, AFCENT commander, noted the strong partnership between AFCENT and the Israeli air force.

“This exercise showcases our commitment to partnering with Israel to counter threats to regional security and stability,” Grynkewich said. “The Israeli air force provides tremendous deterrent capability and capacity throughout the Middle East region, and we’ll continue to build opportunities to improve our integrated defenses and ability to project combined airpower.”