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Israel and US Air Forces Conduct Joint Drills in Signal to Iran

Israeli F-35i and American F-15 jets hold an exercise over Israel, November 29, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli F-35i and American F-15 jets hold an exercise over Israel, November 29, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli army's F-35 fighter jets and several F-15 fighter jets from the United States Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) participated in multi-day joint drills at the Nevatim Air Force Base in Southern Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday. The latest development has many calling the event a signal to the Islamic Republic as political tensions rise between Israel, Israel, and the U.S.

The F-35 Squadron 140 Commanders who ran the drill from the Israeli side stayed away from getting too specific about the F-35s capabilities regarding any particular country but made it clear that they were ready and capable of striking anywhere that the IDF high command ordered them to go. The goal of the joint flights and simulated attacks was to practice hitting targets in "deep" enemy territory, often an indirect term for Iran and other countries that do not have immediate borders with Israel.

According to reports, around six Israeli F-35 aircraft were observed to be taking off and making initial maneuvers with four of the six American F-15 aircraft taking off along with their flight patterns. A Gulfstream G-500/G-550 also reported being involved in intelligence collection.

During a recent graduation ceremony of Israeli Air Force personnel, the then-defense minister Benny Gantz said that graduates would need to be ready to potentially attack the Islamic Republic in "two to three years." In December, outgoing IDF chief-of-staff Aviv Kohavi said that Israeli air force jets attacking Syria in recent months faced 30 to 40 surface-to-air missiles without losing a single aircraft.

Without going into specific detail, one of the F-35 Squadron commanders emphasized the power of the F-35’s stealth capabilities and that he had personally confronted danger on various missions in his career. Neither Israeli commander discussed the impact of Moscow's removal of the S-300 anti-aircraft system from Syria for use against Ukraine, noting that the IAF constantly trains for every scenario that fighter jets might encounter.

The Israeli officials did not give a timeframe on when the 11 Israeli F-35 aircraft, which were grounded in late December from training flights to address a potential malfunction found in similar American jets, would be returned to full service. According to the Post, the malfunction review is complex and will take time. Israeli officials were clear, however, that the remaining F-35s available, of which Israel has three squadrons, were plenty, along with other Israeli fighter aircraft, to accomplish any mission.

As the Islamic Republic continues to develop its nuclear program despite international sanctions, the regime has managed to enrich its uranium to a weapons-grade level at underground nuclear facilities throughout the country. In the past months, Israel, the U.S., and several Persian Gulf Arab states have engaged in military drills on the ground and the air while sharing intelligence on the Islamic Republic and its terrorist proxies. With the election of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative coalition, many predict that the new Israeli government will act against the Islamic Republic of Iran and finally strike against Tehran to destroy its nuclear capabilities.

Related Story: CENTCOM Chief in Israel to Discuss New Joint Capabilities Against Iran

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