Britain, Israel and US air forces have participated in a joint drill over the skies of southern Israel. The exercise also involved the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Air Force joined its Israeli and US allies in the international Tri-Lightning 2 exercise designed to “strengthen strategic-regional cooperation as well as cooperation with the international F-35 community,” the IDF said.

As part of the exercise, Israeli “Adir” (F-35I) fighter jets trained alongside F-35s from the U.S Marine Corps and the Royal Air Force. The drill saw the pilots practice various aerial scenarios including dogfights, dealing with advanced surface-to-air missile systems as well as attacking targets deep in enemy territory and combat scenarios over enemy countries.

Israeli fighter pilots also visited the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to learn how to operate a 35-F squadron on an aircraft carrier.

The Queen Elizabeth is leading six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer and a Dutch frigate in a global deployment of the Carrier Strike Group 21.

According to the British Embassy in Israel, the visit is part of a seven-month deployment that will extend through the Mediterranean sea and the Indian Ocean to the Indo-Pacific.

“The UK Carrier Strike Group is the spearhead of the UK’s Joint Expeditionary capability and a cornerstone of the UK’s conventional military deterrent,” the statement said.

One of the ships sailing with the aircraft carrier, the HMS Richmond, docked in Haifa port on Tuesday for five days to host engagements with seniors from the government and military sectors in Israel,as well as other events.

IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said that the “cooperation with the United States and Britain enables the IAF to strengthen its capabilities and enhance its operational readiness to deal with a wide variety of threats.”

“The Middle East Region is highly dynamic, which requires us to train and prepare for a multitude of scenarios in order to continue effectively ensuring the security of the State of Israel and defend its skies,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, U.S. Air Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) commander said, “We build capacity with our strategic partners to harness our air component’s capabilities and skills.”

“The transatlantic strategic relationship between the US and our allies and partners has been forged over the past seven decades and is built on a foundation of shared values, experience and vision.”

“The exercise today reflects the close cooperation between the participating nations, said Brig. Gen. Amnon Ein-Dar, Israel Chief of Air Staff. “This training opportunity between Israel, the U.S. and Britain, strengthens shared capabilities and overall cooperation amongst allies.”

Sources: YNet and JPost

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