Israel Pulls Fighter Jets From Joint Military Exercise With U.S. In Alaska — As Tensions With Iran Escalate

Israel Pulls Fighter Jets From Joint Military Exercise With U.S. In Alaska — As Tensions With Iran Escalate
     The Jerusalem Post is reporting today (April 22, 2018) that Israel has decided not to send its F-15 fighter jets to Alaska – April 26 – May 11 – to participate in the joint Red Flag military exercise with the U.S. — amid escalating tensions with Iran.
     The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) issued a public statement, “In light of the situational assessment by the Israeli Air Force, it was decided to adjust the planes’ participation in the exercise;” but, were quick to add that Israel would not completely withdraw from the high-profile event, which simulates air-to-air combat with an experienced and wily adversary.  “Despite this change, we are looking forward to hosting the Israeli contingent that will be partaking in ‘Red Flag Alaska 18-1,” said Kitsana Dounglomchan, USAF Public Affairs Officer.  The joint U.S.-Israeli Air Force exercise will be orchestrated and overseen out of Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Ms. Anna Ahronheim noted.  She adds that “Israel’s Air Force regularly participates in the USAF’s main Red Flag exercises [held every year] at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.  The drill in Alaska is meant to offer pilots the opportunity to fly in [realistic] combat scenarios which involve winter conditions such as snow and ice,” something which the Israeli Air Force rarely experiences or sees in the Middle East. Israeli’s F-15 fighter jets are capable of conducting long-range strike and reconnaissance missions, and are the workhorse of the Israeli Air Force.
     Left unsaid in this article is — has this ever happened before?  Has Israeli decided not to send fighter aircraft — that were previously scheduled to participate — to a joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise like Red Flag?; and if so, how often has it happened, and what was the reason?  My guess is that this ‘withdrawal’ of the Israeli F-15s may not be unprecedented; but, it is probably rare and highly unusual — though I do not know that for sure.
     Tensions between Tel Aviv and Tehran have certainly been escalating in recent months, as Israel fears Iran is attempting to lay the groundwork to build a surrogate presence in war-torn Syria; and ultimately, further empower Hezbollah, their proxy force, to attack Israel’s northern border.  In 2006, Israel saw first-hand how Iran had equipped and trained Hezbollah to engage in sophisticated and deadly combat operations against the IDF.  Israel has been watching with growing alarm, as Tehran has been sending military supplies, weapons, and advisers into Syria, as well as constructing military command posts at various locations in Syria.
     Whether or not this ‘withdrawal’ of Israeli F-15s from Alaska’s Red Flag exercises means that some type of Israeli strike against Iran’s Syria operations is imminent — is a question mark.  But, this ‘withdrawal’ and its message isn’t likely to be lost in translation — not in Iran, Syria, nor Washington.  It would seem that it is only a matter of time — and not a long time — before Israel conducts a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s Syria presence.  This escalation tension is one factor behind the rise in oil prices, that and the chaos in Venezuela.  Stay tiuned.  RCP,

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