Interesting timing to say the least:
Amid tensions with Iran, IAF squadrons carried out exercises this week to practice long-range missions.
Squadrons carried out midair refueling in the course of the advanced training, testing the capabilities of fighter jets to operate far from Israel.
“When one mentions that ‘all options are on the table,’ it’s clear that military operations are also being talked about,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said on Thursday.
“The air force, which is the IDF’s long arm, is responsible for realizing this option if necessary, and to that end, squadrons are practicing and strengthening the full range of their abilities, including long-range flights,” the IDF added.
An IAF source said that the challenges in this type of mission include dealing with unfamiliar weather conditions and terrain, as well as coping with various potential threats along the way to the targets.
Pilots who took part in the exercise said the experience was prolonged and demanded powers of concentration for several hours, as well as special physical preparations that included eating the right diet and getting enough rest.
In a display of muscle-flexing to Tehran ahead of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Israel made a rare announcement Thursday that its air force had conducted a series of drills in which fighter aircraft practiced midair refueling and a simulated strike on a distant target.
A video, unprecedentedly uploaded to YouTube by the IDF Thursday, shows F-15 and F-16 fighter jets refueling midair over the water. It was published shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a series of European TV interviewers, warning the EU not to ease sanctions against Iran. “When a murderous regime engages in soft diplomacy and uses calming words of peace, but nevertheless continues to acquire immense power — it must be stopped, immediately,” Netanyahu said.
According to the military, most of the Israeli Air Force squadrons, including all the combat ones, participated in this week’s drill. An IDF statement, highlighting the drill’s relevance for Israel’s capacity to thwart Iran by force if necessary, noted that the IAF “plays a central role in carrying out Israel’s military option if necessary” and had therefore been “exercising and strengthening its range of capabilities through long-range flights.”