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First IAF-Luftwaffe Exercises in Germany

(August 2020)

German pilots have twice traveled to Israel for joint maneuvers, but, on August 17, 2020, 75 years after the Holocaust, Israeli fighter jets landed in Germany for the first time.

“After the crime against humanity that was the Shoah,” said Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, the head of Luftwaffe, “it is a moving sign of our friendship today that we are flying side by side with the Israeli Air Force for the first time in our history.”

According to the New York Times, “the exercises involved various flying maneuvers near Germany’s border with Denmark, including midair refueling and mock air battles” to help Israeli pilots learn more about NATO techniques and train in new airspaces while the Germans studied IAF tactics. Six F-16 fighter jets, two Gulfstream G-55 command planes and two Boeing 707 air-to air tankers were brought from Israel along with associated personnel.

IAF commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said, “Many IAF. fighters are grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and in the ’60s and ’70s of the last century, half of the IAF’s pilots were Holocaust survivors themselves — and yet we believe this is the right thing to do.”

In honor of the victims, Germans and Israelis laid a wreath at Dachau. Planes from both forces flew over Fürstenfeldbruck air base near Munich in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics.

Source: Melissa Eddy and Christopher F. Schuetze, “Israeli Jets Arrive for 1st Joint Military Exercises on German Soil,” New York Times, (August 17, 2020).

Photo: IAF