Jerusalem, Sep 2: Israeli Air Force planes returned from the US this week after participating in the "Red Flag", considered to be the biggest and best war simulation exercises in the world, with countries like Pakistan and the UAE with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
The website of the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, where the 'Red Flag' advanced combat training exercise was held, stated that the Spanish Air Force participated in the large-scale military exercise alongside planes from Israel, Pakistan, the UAE and the United States.
The head of the Israel Air Force's (IAF) training department, Colonel Amit, while talking to military correspondents refused to discuss the identity of the nations that participated in Red Flag but confirmed that it was done jointly with other countries, Ha'aretz reported.
"We train together with anyone who attends the exercise. We have no say in the matter," he said. "In a group it is impossible to hide your level. If you did not carry out the mission given to you, everyone sees it," said the defence official to emphasise the importance of the thorough preparedness.
Earlier in response to a question on Israel's participation in the prestigious exercise alongside Pakistan, a Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson had said that "the IDF trains regularly to maintain operational competency and be prepared for any potential challenge".
"The Israeli Air Force was invited to participate in the high quality exercise 'Red Flag', and has accepted favourably", she had said. Eight Israeli F-16I ('Sufa' or Storm) fighter jets took part in the exercise this year, along with Israeli refuelling planes, all of which retuned here yesterday.
All the squadrons participating in the exercise are said to be assigned to 'red' and 'blue' forces. The exercise involves intercepting other aircraft, attacking targets, rescuing pilots and engaging in aerial activity under the ostensible threat of ground-to-air missiles. Col.
Amit said the exercise, which ended on August 26, lasted for two weeks and included daily flights, in daylight as well as at night.
Some 50 warplanes from the five countries participated in the exercise, alongwith helicopters, aerial defence units, and intelligence and special forces units.
Israel and Pakistan do not have diplomatic relations but the two countries have in the past tried to come close with a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in 2005 fuelling speculations of some major diplomatic breakthrough.
However, relations between the two countries have been rather strained since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai when Pakistan-backed terrorists also attacked the Jewish Chabad house in the city, killing six people.