Why Israel Is Keeping Its Warplanes Close to Home

MIN READApr 19, 2018 | 16:46 GMT

An Israeli F-15 takes off during the Blue Flag multinational air defense exercise at the Ovda air base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on Nov. 8, 2017. Israel has withdrawn a squadron of fighter jets from a high-profile multinational military exercise in the United States and given them orders to stay in country.

(JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Instead of participating in a high-profile U.S. military air combat exercise in Alaska that starts April 30, the Israeli Defense Forces ordered a squadron of its fighter jets -- likely the 69th Squadron, equipped with F-15I Ra'am strike fighters -- to remain in Israel, while other of its air force assets have been allowed to proceed. Given that the U.S. Red Flag exercises require substantial preparation and confer valuable experience, Israel would not have made the decision to keep its fighters home lightly. The withdrawal, announced April 17, indicates a heightened probability that a cycle of escalation and confrontation between Iran (and, by extension, Hezbollah) and Israel lies ahead....

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