Thursday, May 19, 2022

US to refuel Israeli warplanes during massive drill simulating Iran attack - Anna Ahronheim

 

by Anna Ahronheim

The Israeli drill will simulate striking targets far from Israel’s borders with a lot of planes while simultaneously acquiring new targets.

Boeing's KC-46 aerial refueling tanker (photo credit: BOEING)
Boeing's KC-46 aerial refueling tanker
(photo credit: BOEING)

In a signal to Iran, the United States Air Force will refuel Israel Air Force fighter jets during a massive aerial drill in the coming weeks that will simulate an Israeli strike against Iran.

The Israeli drill – dubbed “Chariots of Fire” – will simulate striking targets far from Israel’s borders with a large number of planes while simultaneously acquiring new targets on various fronts in real time. It will be the largest military drill in Israel’s history.

The drill is unprecedented in scope and will enable the army to maintain a high level of readiness in an ever-changing region, the IDF said. It aims to improve the military’s capabilities in an intense, multi-front and prolonged war on all of Israel’s borders.

During the drill, the IAF will practice striking distant targets while troops continue to contend with a multi-front war on its borders.

Channel 13 revealed on Tuesday night that US refueling tankers will drill the midair refueling of Israeli fighter jets during the Iran-attack simulation. The IAF did not return comment.

  A US Air Force B-1b heavy bomber was escorted by an IAF F-15 fighter jet above Israeli airspace on October 30, 2021 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) A US Air Force B-1b heavy bomber was escorted by an IAF F-15 fighter jet above Israeli airspace on October 30, 2021 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

On Tuesday, US Central Command chief Gen. Michael Kurilla landed in Israel to participate in the drill.

According to a senior military official familiar with the visit, Kurilla will hear the IDF’s assessment about the region and Iran. He will hear “what we see and what we think” during the exercise and will “see how Israel will act in a worst-case scenario that is based on real scenarios and contingency plans.”

“Unfortunately it’s a slippery slope, and we can find ourselves carrying out maneuvers in Lebanon and we don’t know how that can develop,” the officer said.

The official told The Jerusalem Post that Kurilla will carry out an operational assessment during his visit, and that Iran will be part of the discussions since the Islamic Republic is under the responsibility of CENTCOM.

Kurilla is in Israel after visiting other countries in the region. According to the officer, Kurilla is no stranger to the Middle East and is the main American “sensor” in the region.

While Kurilla and his team are expected to hold open discussions and frank talks with the Israeli officials, “we have constraints on both sides,” the officer said, explaining that as sovereign states they both have their own interests.

However, he added, “We must share with the Americans exactly what we think, and his visit here will achieve these goals.”

While the head of CENTCOM is in Israel, Defense Minister Benny Gantz is in Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

“I will discuss strengthening joint security cooperation and dealing with regional challenges, foremost among which is Iran, against whom all moderate players in the region must unite,” Gantz said late Tuesday evening before he took off for the US.

The IDF is planning several military options against Iran should the nuclear talks between the West and the Islamic Republic fail. During the month-long military exercise, it will practice one of the options.

The military will also implement the lessons learned from Operation Guardian of the Walls throughout the entire month. During the 11 days of fighting last year, there was heavy rioting in mixed Arab-Israeli cities such as Lod and Jaffa, during which two people were killed and several civilians were injured.


Anna Ahronheim

Source: https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/article-707003

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