Washington: The United States has deployed an unspecified number of F-15 fighter jets to Israel to conduct joint exercises with the Israeli air force in the next two weeks, according to a report.
The drills will take place out of the Ovda air base, the home of Israeli air force’s aggressor squadron known as Red Squadron, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday, citing military sources.
“An international exercise in cooperation with the American air force will begin in the coming days,” the Israeli military spokesman’s office said. “The exercise is based on the annual training plan.”
The Israeli air force has conducted several war games with foreign counterparts in the past. Last month, it joined air forces from Greece, the United Arab Emirates and the US for a training exercise over Greece.
Israeli pilots also took part in the Red Flag exercises in Nevada, the US, last year.
Israel received three F-35 fighter jets from the US this past weekend – a new generation of stealth planes that critics fear would further enable the regime to carry out airstrikes and spying operations against the Palestinians and neighboring countries.
The advanced jets, purchased last year, were put on display in the skies along the Mediterranean coast and across several cities, including Tel Aviv, during an air show held to mark the 69 anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
Israel has bought a total of 50 F-35s from the US manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and has said it would have the first squadron combat-ready before the end of this year. Lockheed describes the plane as “virtually invisible.”
Although the jet comes with a huge price tag, $110 million apiece, the fleet will be financed out of the US military assistance.
The annual $3 billion aid package will rise to $3.8 billion next year, under a 10-year agreement signed by former President Barack Obama shortly before he left the White House.
Israel’s older fleets of F-15 and F-16 jets, which have been in use since the 1970s, will gradually be decommissioned with the arrival of the new stealth fighter.