What is the significance of the unique Israel Air Force exercise published last week in which pilots trained with UAE pilots?
Last week it was reported that the Israeli Air Force had taken part in a large air exercise in Greece, in which the air forces of Greece, Italy, the United States and the United Arab Emirates participated. Some 80 fighter planes and about 200 pilots participated in the exercise. According to the pictures published in the exercise, it appears that the Israeli Air Force sent planes and pilots from the F-16 fleet.
In the joint exercise, the various air forces fought a common battle against potential enemies, some of whom imagined attacking enemy targets, and some of them practiced aerial coverings and combat air battles against enemy interceptors.
During the exercise, air battles (without armaments of course) were also held between the planes of the various countries.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is actually a union of seven small states (emirates) in the Persian Gulf. The combined economic strength of these countries makes them an influential and important factor in the Persian Gulf, and the UAE is considered a leading force in this region alongside Saudi Arabia. The two countries have a common interest in curbing Iran, as well as in dealing with the threats of regional terrorism (Dash and Al-Qaeda), and are working together in a determined battle against the Houthi rebels (supported by Iran).
It should be noted that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have increased militarily since the 1991 Gulf War, with an emphasis on the establishment of air forces operating hundreds of first-class fighter jets.
Modern fighter jets
The UAE Air Force currently operates more than 140 modern fighter jets (60 more on order), including some 60 upgraded quality Mirage 2000s from France, and about 80 new F-16 E/F fighter jets.
The F-16 is considered one of the most common fighter aircraft in the world and has many versions. The UAE version is considered the latest and most sophisticated in the world, more so than the version sold to Israel.
The latest Israeli version of the F-16 is called Block 50/52, while the UAE version is called Block 60 (the larger number indicates a newer version).
For the sake of comparison, Israel purchased 102 F-16 Sufah jets, for $ 5 billion (all from US defense funds) – a cost of about $ 49 million per plane. While the UAE purchased 80 F-16 Desert Hawk aircraft for $ 6.4 billion – $ 80 million per plane!
However, the price gap is also due to the fact that the United Arab Emirates’ version of the new version of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and more advanced, on several levels:
A. While in almost all combat aircraft, it is common for any mission to install “fudim” (i.e. external tanks) to add navigation, laser, infrared, electronic warfare, and other capabilities. On the UAE planes however, these are all built in an integral part of the aircraft’s systems, giving it very high operational capabilities.
B. The “Desert Hawk” has a much stronger engine, and it also carries large cylindrical fuel tanks (attached to the body of the airplane, not carried under its wings), which allow it to reach long flight ranges.
C. A unique system for tracking and “acquiring” targets, both on the ground and in the air, using infrared receivers. This system enables the aircraft to cope with air battles without radar activation, thus helping the aircraft to operate against electronic warfare systems that disrupt radars. In addition, the system provides an important advantage by enabling Desert Hawk to locate and to shoot down enemy aircraft without operating its radar, thus making it difficult to detect and identify the aircraft [because one of the means to detect and locate aircraft is by absorbing the transmitted beams of their radar].
D. The most important upgrade is the replacement of the mechanical radar (on all models of the F-16s and the F-15s) with AESA radar. This is a completely different kind of radar. While in the radar of the previous versions, the radar antenna was shifted mechanically from side to side, the modern radar (which is also found in modern anti-aircraft batteries such as the S-300, Patriot, Arrow, etc.) From thousands of tiny antennas, which are run by a powerful computer that makes them transmit at an angle, frequency, and optimal intensity.
This radar has a much larger range than the older radar, and it can simultaneously locate a very large number of targets simultaneously in air and land, and handle all of them at once (because it is made up of many antennas). In addition, the radar’s resistance to means of jamming and electronic warfare is very high. The cost of this radar is high and is one of the reasons for the high price of the Desert Hawk.
It should be noted that Israel has previously been interested in a comprehensive upgrade of the entire array of Barak aircraft (including five combat squadrons), which will mainly include the replacement of their mechanical radar with AESA. Today, it seems that this idea is no longer on the agenda, both because of its high costs, and because the 35-F stealth planes purchased by Israel, including the AESA radars, and the older lightning planes have already begun to leave service It is possible that such a radar upgrade will weigh for the Sufah fleet.)
The joint practice in Greece is an opportunity for the Air Force to practice combat against the above-mentioned aircraft, and against aircraft with similar capabilities (although in such exercises, all air forces avoid showing the full capabilities available to them).
It should be noted that the above upgrades in the Desert Hawk aircraft also increased the weight of the aircraft and impaired its maneuverability (partial compensation was provided by the more powerful engine installed on it).
At the same time, it should be noted that the Israeli F-16s have undergone (and are undergoing) significant upgrades, and are equipped with the luxury of defense systems, as well as unprecedented armament and attack systems.
The joint exercise – good for everyone
The Greeks have a vested interest in practicing with Israel, which has an air force with high capabilities, and which for its part is an ally against Turkey (with which Greece has been in a difficult conflict for many years). Israel also has such an interest in the hostile regime of Erdogan.
In addition, Greece has 300S batteries, while the Israeli Air Force exercises its capabilities and builds a combat doctrine to deal with these batteries in the hands of Syria and Iran (and Egypt).
Italy and Greece are also NATO members, along with the United States, and such an exercise is important for them, especially with the Israeli Air Force, which B’ezras Hashem, is considered one of the best in the world.
For Israel, the exercise also provides an opportunity to practice combat over very large air space (as opposed to Israel’s limited airspace) and over unfamiliar areas, and this helps prepare pilots for long range flight over unfamiliar enemy territory, (Such as the 300S), as well as the modern Desert Hawk aircraft of the United Arab Emirates and the Italian F-35s, stealth aircraft.
It is also an opportunity to look closely at the capabilities of the Arab pilots, as well as demonstrate Israel’s capabilities and show them that ‘it is not worthwhile’ to test the capabilities of the IAF…
The information in this report was published by Ladaat News, obtained from Rabbi Avishai Effergan, Rosh Yeshivas Chabad Kfar Sava, who in the past, served in a classified position in the IDF.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)