Israel, US practice ‘social distancing’ in joint F-35 fighter jet exercise

The aim of the joint Israel-U.S. exercise is to improve “force capabilities and readiness,” said the IDF.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

As the world calls for “social distancing” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like the Israeli and U.S. militaries have found a clever way to work around it.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Air Force (IAF) will be holding a joint F-35 fighter jet military exercise with its U.S counterparts, despite the Health Ministry’s coronavirus order to keep “social distancing,” because the drill will be held in the air only.

“Today in the afternoon hours, an international military exercise of the IAF and the U.S. military will start over southern Israel, expected to end on Thursday afternoon,” a Tuesday statement by the IDF said.

“The exercise will be conducted only in the air and no meetings will be held on the ground,” the statement said.

According to the IDF, the F-35 fighter jet exercise was planned in advance as part of the IDF’s scheduled exercises in 2020, with the aim of improving “force capabilities and readiness.”

Earlier this month, the IDF called off the remaining part of its joint Israel-U.S. Juniper Cobra exercise over fears of the coronavirus.

The Juniper Cobra operation would have seen 1,000 Israeli and 2,500 U.S European Command soldiers work together over a two-week period to improve aerial defense coordination.

Israel is always adapting its military strategies and capabilities to defend against emerging threats.

In January, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett approved a five-year military program proposal, code-named “Momentum,” developed by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

Momentum’s goal is to shorten the time of a multifront war and to minimize harm to civilians by harnessing the IDF’s latest technologies, said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus prior to Bennett’s authorization.

“We may face a two- or three-front war — active areas or theaters simultaneously against different enemies and capabilities. We must address that,” Conricus said. “We want to shorten the time of combat for higher achievement on [the] battlefield at a smaller cost for IDF and civilians.”

“Think of a triangle, with sides of time and achievement and cost. Imagine we want that to be small with achievement being high,” he added.