Israel, Cyprus Hold Joint Air Force Exercise

Amid rising tensions between Cyprus and Turkey over gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, both Israel and the UK have sent fighter aircraft to the island country as part of pre-planned training exercises

Archive photo: IAF website

The air forces of Israel and Cyprus are conducting a joint exercise in the area of Nicosia. The drills, which began on Monday, are scheduled to last until May 29, according to the Greek Reporter.

Meanwhile, the British Royal Air Force has deployed several F-35 stealth fighter jets to Cyprus as part of a training exercise called Lightning Dawn, the UK MoD announced Tuesday. It is unclear whether the RAF and IAF will train together during their time in Cyprus.

While the joint exercise with Cyprus is part of the IDF’s training schedule, it comes at an interesting timing given the Turkish activity in the Cypriot EEZ. Turkey has recently sent a drillship and a frigate to Cyprus’ economic waters, in a defiant move that prompted Nicosia to lodge a complaint with the UN. Satellite images captured by ISI show the Fatih drillship operating 80 km west of Paphos.

IDF’s presence in Cyprus in this time of heightened tension could be seen by Ankara as an aggressive act.

It should also be noted that the Turkish Navy is in the midst of a large-scale exercise, dubbed Denizkurdu (Sea Wolf) 2019, spanned across the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas.


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