Israel pulls F-15s from US exercise amid border tensions
Israel has cancelled the planned participation of its Boeing F-15 strike aircraft at a Red Flag Alaska-series exercise in the USA next month, after air force commanders decided that all its frontline fighters should remain at their bases to meet potential hostilities.
“The air force’s participation in the Red Flag exercise in Alaska will take place as planned during May, [but] in light of the updated situation assessment, it was decided to adjust the participation of the aircraft in the exercise,” the Israeli military says. “Other squadrons will participate, including Boeing 707 tankers,” it adds.
Air force squadrons remain on high alert following a reported Israeli strike mounted against Iranian personnel at a Syrian air force base in mid-April. The action is believed to have been taken in response to an attempt to fly a UAV into northern Israel on 10 February. The Israeli military alleges that the aircraft – an Iranian copy of a stealthy Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel – was armed with explosives and was intended to strike an Israeli village.
An Israeli air force Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter shot the UAV down, while one of the service’s Lockheed F-16 combat aircraft was downed by a surface-to-air missile during an ensuing border clash.