In the first half of May, the Juniper Falcon trained Israeli and American aircrew members from the F-15 Division. Throughout two weeks of joint training, with the largest "Blue-Flag" training exercise in IAF history in the horizon, Israel and the U.S strengthened their strategic and tactical relationship.
|USAF and IAF F-15s fly in formation during Juniper Falcon exercise|
"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. Maj. Itamar further explained that the exercise's leading Israeli squadron was chosen in accordance with the American squadron which was expected to arrive. "An Israeli squadron which operates a platform with similar capabilities to the foreign aircraft was chosen". Because the Juniper Falcon was an intimate exercise, the participants had the ability to focus on details.
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 field. "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 operates the "Ra'am" (F-15I). "We created scenarios that promoted cooperation and fit both sides' training programs. We rehearsed sky defense under SAM (Surface-air-missile) threat and performed formation attacks in which each formation of four had its own mission".
What about flight mentality? "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 Ouvda AFB's Control Tower. With scenarios like this one and others in mind, an American aircrew member was positioned 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 create a challenge".
Source, Photo credits: Israeli AF