The US Air Force (USAF) has carried out a bilateral fighter escort and refuelling exercise with its Israeli counterparts over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea region.

The exercise was conducted in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations (AOR) on 30 November.

The latest fighter integration and refuelling operation was the first of several exercises scheduled to be undertaken by the US and Israeli forces to enhance the bilateral aerial capability and interoperability.

The planned drills were a part of the joint US-Israel Strategic Partnership declaration signed between the two nations in Jerusalem earlier this year.

US Central Command commander general Michael Kurilla said: “This bilateral exercise demonstrates CENTCOM’s commitment to regional security.

“CENTCOM routinely demonstrates the ability to rapidly insert combat airpower into operations and exercises with our partners, and our ability to do the same across all domains decisively is a powerful deterrent.”

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The assets representing the Israeli Air Force included F-15 Lightning II aircraft and F-16 fighter jets.

Meanwhile, the USAF deployed its F-15E Strike Eagles fighter jets and F-16 Fighting Falcon along with the KC-135 Stratotanker air-to-air refuelling aircraft.

The deployed USAF aircraft were from the Ninth Air Force, also referred to as the US Air Force Central (AFCENT).

The exercise allowed participant forces to enhance their joint tactics, techniques and procedures. It also strengthened the partnership between AFCENT and the Israeli Air Force.

AFCENT commander lieutenant general Alexus Grynkewich said: “This exercise showcases our commitment to partnering with Israel to counter threats to regional security and stability.

“The Israeli Air Force provides tremendous deterrent capability and capacity throughout the Middle East region, and we will continue to build opportunities to improve our integrated defences and ability to project combined airpower.”