The Commander of the German Air Force, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, visited Israel this week as part of the effort to strengthen cooperation between the Israeli and German air forces. Lt. Gen. Gerhartz and his delegation visited the IAF Headquarters as well as the Nevatim and Tel-Nof AFBs. During his visit, Lt. Gen. Gerhartz met with IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin for the first time since the beginning of his tenure.
"The two air forces have a close cooperation, which is also a part of the close relations between Germany and Israel", said Maj I', Head of the IAF's Europe & Asia International Affairs Branch. "The cooperation mainly focuses on mutual exercises, mutual learning and force build-up processes. This is one of the German Air Force Commander's first trips, and he said that this visit was especially important as a result of the fertile cooperation".
The German Air Force Commander's visit focused on promoting mutual work programs between the two forces, establishing points for future cooperation and forming interpersonal relationships between the two forces' commanders. "The two air forces have cooperated many times over the years. The relations between us are close and will continue to grow stronger. The IAF Commander has said that the visit was significant for him".
Some events resulting from the two air forces' cooperation include: crew exchanges in the "Yas'ur" (CH-53) division, crew exchanges in the fighter division, mutual air defense study groups, participation in the "Blue Flag" 2017 exercise and future participation in "Blue Flag" 2019.
The German Air Force, like the IAF, is considering replacing the "Yas'ur" helicopter. The two forces' potential candidates are the CH-53K, which is based on the "Yas'ur", and the Chinook (CH-47). "The two countries have similar considerations for purchasing a new helicopter. This year, the Germans arrived at Israel to drill landing in dusty terrain and we are due to fly to Germany in order to practice landing in mountainous terrain", added Maj. I'.
Something to Look Forward To
The two air forces' cooperation is expected to grow over the coming years: additional cooperation in the field of air defense, a yearly force establishment discussion and more.
"The air forces are different from each other – it's clear that the German Air Force puts its focus on international manners. The Germans establish multi-national capabilities for every exercise or operation, unlike the IAF, which maintains its independence", concluded Maj. I'. "In spite of the difference, there's a lot in common. The Germans' grasp of aerial activity also places an emphasis on excellence and precision, and flying together illustrates each other's' qualities"