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US pilots in Israel for joint air force drill
IAF holds drill with American pilots as 'part of multi-year working plan… for the purpose of mutual learning'
Israel's air force held a joint drill with visiting US pilots on Sunday, stirring interest in a region bracing for a possible armed showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

 

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the exercise was "part of a multi-year working plan involving joint flights for the purpose of mutual learning" and would be held annually.

 

Reports on the exercise were carried in Arab media, fueled by speculation that Israel or the United States could bomb Iran should UN Security Council sanctions fail to curb its nuclear program.

 

An Israeli military source said the joint air force drill was "unconnected to the current situation in the country".

 

Israel, believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, sent planes to attack Iraq's main reactor in 1981. But analysts believe Iran's facilities are too dispersed, fortified and distant for Israel to take on alone.

 

Alon Ben-David, Israel analyst for Jane's Defence Weekly, said the air force drill demonstrated recent Israeli efforts to boost military cooperation with friendly foreign states.

 

"Israel has realized that the way forward is to operate within coalitions, rather than alone," he said.  

 

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