Israel prepares to fight: Air Force holds intensive drills to train for missions in remote locations, rescue operations in enemy territory.
Several IDF fighter jet squadrons and transport planes participated in a large-scale exercise in Cyprus last week. The drill enabled the Air Force to train for missions in unfamiliar and remote settings, senior commanders said.
The sessions in Cyprus followed recent training simulating long-range airstrikes.
In the latest exercise, almost all fighter squadrons practiced midair refueling en route to distant locations. Training for long-range missions was one of the most important aspects of the drill, one officer said, hinting to ongoing preparations for a potential strike in Iran.
Several Israeli jets also simulated emergency landings, another scenario that the IDF could face during operations in Iranian territory. “This allowed us to train for landing in a foreign and unfamiliar airport,” another officer said.
As the Cypriot army does not have any fighter jets, the exercise enabled Cyprus to test its air defenses, the Air Force said. The drill included mock strikes on targets on the island, with Israeli jets trying to evade local defenders.
Rescuing stranded pilots
Meanwhile, fighter jets also held drills in southern Israel to simulate more airstrikes. The Air Force employed strike formations consisting of F-15 and F-16 fighters operating in tandem. The jets simulated diverse scenarios, including an attack on arms convoys in hostile countries.
The exercises were designed to challenge pilots with advanced defenses, including missile batteries and planes simulating enemy aircraft, the Air Force said.
In parallel, the IDF’s helicopter squadrons held a workshop to train for rescue missions deep behind enemy lines. The sessions brought together attack and transport helicopters, as well as unmanned aircraft and elite rescue forces.
The drills featured various scenarios, including operations to extract stranded pilots while evading enemy squads. Such missions pose unique challenges, an Air Force officer who participated in the drill said. “Deep behind enemy lines, threats can come from every direction,” he noted.
Notably, the Air Force also trained for rescue missions of pilots during a large IDF war drill in October.