In the coming weeks, Israeli Air Force (IAF) “Barak” (F-16C/D) fighter jets will color Germany’s skies in blue and white in the first-ever training exercise of its kind. As part of the exercise, Israeli and German aircraft will fly by the “Dachau” concentration camp and above “Fürstenfeldbruck” airport. The first joint exercise between the IAF and German Air Force will take place on German soil. This exercise is the only international exercise that the IAF is conducting abroad this year, due to the spread of COVID-19. The exercise is being held to continue enhancing the IAF’s capabilities, maintain its readiness to face various scenarios, and to continue strengthening its bonds and cooperation with allied air forces.
As part of the exercise, six “Barak” (F-16C/D) fighter jets, two “Re’em” (Boeing 707) aircraft, and two “Nachshon-Eitam” (Gulfstream G-550) aircraft will land at the “Nörvenich” base in Germany. The aircrew members will train in a two-week outline and drill various aerial scenarios alongside NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries as part of the “MAG (Multinational Air Group) Days” exercise – an international event that takes place four times a year. During the exercise, the IAF will drill dogfights, ground-to-air combat, handling surface-to-air missile threats, and other combat scenarios in enemy territory. The exercise is an opportunity to fly tactically and face a wide variety of threats using advanced technology, and to execute quality aerial training in an unfamiliar arena.
On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, a “Memory for the Future” flyby will take place – a joint flyby, led by an IAF Gulfstream G550 with F-16 fighter jets and two German “Eurofighter” jets, will fly by the Dachau concentration camp, in memory of the Holocaust victims and above the “Fürstenfeldbruck” Airport close to Munich, in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympic delegation members that were murdered in the 1972 Olympics terrorist attack. Commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin will lead the flyby in the Gulfstream G550 alongside the Commander of the German Air Force, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, and the IAF’s first female squadron commander, Commander of the 122nd (“Nachson”) Squadron, Lt. Col. G.
After the flyby, an official memorial ceremony at the Dachau concentration camp will be held. The ceremony will be attended by the German Federal Minister of Defense, Mrs. Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer, the Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Jeremy Issacharoff, the Commanders of both Air Forces and other dignitaries. The Deputy Commander of the 109th Squadron, Maj. Y, a grandson of a Holocaust survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, will speak at the ceremony. In addition, a “Yizkor” reading will be heard from Rabbi Mendel Moraity. The ceremony will be broadcast live on IAF and IDF digital platforms.
The deployment is strategically significant and greatly influences the IAF, IDF, and the entire state of Israel. Israeli – German cooperation and the arrival of IAF aircraft on German soil is a historic event. The IAF conducts and will continue to conduct joint exercises with other air forces to maintain its fitness and readiness, as well as to advance relations and encourage and strengthen the cooperation between forces. “On a tactical level, we have the incredible opportunity to learn from other air forces and train in unfamiliar territory and challenging conditions”, concluded Lt. Col. A. “From a strategic standpoint, we are strengthening our ability to cooperate with other nations and air forces”.
In 2011 Israeli Air force announced an upgrade program of its aging F-16C/D (blocks 30 and 40) fleet, to make it valuable in 2020 and even later. The upgrade included installation of newer avionics, new wiring more, which made these block 30/40 airframes closer to IAFs I (Sufa) model (in itself upgraded block 52+ F-16D). Work conducted under the Barak 2020 programme has included structural treatments to the fighter’s airframe and the installation of new heads-up display and digital debriefing systems. Additional systems have also been fitted, but there have been no details released about their capabilities. The upgrade program was completed in 2014.