TEL AVIV — Israeli C-130 airlifters today concluded their participation in Southern Strike, the only foreign nation to participate in the two-week drill involving elements from the US Air Force, Army and Navy.
Hosted by the US Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, the cross-service drill involved a full spectrum of tactical airlift operations conducted over large swaths of the US south.
Israel Air Force reserve Brig. Gen. Eden, whose last name was withheld for security reasons, said the Israeli component for this year's exercise involved three Israeli C-130s — two legacy aircraft and one of its new C-130J planes — conducting more than 60 sorties in day and night operations over varied terrain.
"What's unique for us is the terrain we got to train in that we don't have back home … and to hone how we can interoperate with the Americans on different missions," the reserve general officer told reporters here.
"We're doing briefings and debriefings together. We open ourselves up to them and vice versa to maximize how we can learn from one another. … We need to know this if someday we will need to work together."
This year's mission scenarios covered "all aspects of the tactical airlift mission," Eden said.
"We practiced low-level flying, landing in short fields between mountains and taking paratroopers and ground-force vehicles from place to place. It all was conducted in day and at night. … It's an important part of our aerial training program," he said.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.