Israeli fighter pilots carry out first joint exercises in Germany

The pilots kick off the exercises by honouring Holocaust victims and the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

A German air force Bundeswehr Eurofighter and an Israeli Air Force F-16 jets
A German air force Eurofighter and Israeli air force F-16 jets [Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP]

Israeli and German fighter pilots have carried out their first joint military exercises in Germany, honouring Holocaust victims and the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

A formation of fighter aircraft, including Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) F-16s and Eurofighter jets from the German Luftwaffe, began the commemorations on Tuesday with an overfly of the Fuerstenfeldbruck airbase near Munich to mark the Olympic massacre.

They then carried out an aerial tribute above the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

The exercises are the highlight of two weeks of manoeuvres that will see Israeli air forces train on German soil for the first time.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is the only training mission the IAF is conducting abroad this year.

Luftwaffe chief Ingo Gerhartz in a statement called the joint exercise “a sign of our friendship today”.

He said it was also a reminder that Germany has an enduring responsibility “to fight anti-Semitism with the utmost consistency” because of its Nazi past.

Military cooperation

The IAF said the mission, which runs until August 28, will give its pilots a chance to practise in unfamiliar surroundings and will include simulated dogfights, air-to-ground battles and missile threats.

Israeli pilots will also take part in aerial manoeuvres with Germany and other NATO members during the deployment.

Germany and Israel have stepped up military cooperation in recent years, with the Luftwaffe taking part in joint exercises in the Israeli Negev desert in 2019.

The exercises come as Germany grapples with a surge in anti-Jewish and far-right violence, 75 years after the defeat of the Nazi regime.

In the eastern city of Halle last year, a neo-Nazi shot dead two people after trying but failing to storm a synagogue.

The attack prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to say Germany needed “to do more” to protect Jewish people.

In June, Kramp-Karrenbauer ordered the partial dissolution of Germany’s elite KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

Source: News Agencies