Bonding over bombers: Int‘l air force conference kicks off in Herzliya

Dozens of Air Force commanders from across the world will gather in Herzliya for Israel’s second International Air Force Commanders Conference, starting Tuesday.

The three-day conference will see Air Force commanders from the United States, Canada and several European countries as well as air chiefs from Canada, Brazil, India and Vietnam. The commanders of AFCENT, Lt.-Gen. Harrigian and USAFE Gen. Tod Wolters, will be in attendance as will US Air Force Deputy Undersecretary Heidi Grant and Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson.

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The last time the conference was held was in 1998, on the occasion of Israel’s 50th year of independence, a senior IAF officer noted.

This conference, he said, will include lectures, tours, strategic discussions and aerial training and will showcase the innovation, technology and people of the various air forces as well as the various regional challenges facing the Israel Air Force.

“The conference reflects the military cooperation between the commanders of the air forces and the IDF as well as serves as a bridge for cooperation and a place for strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries,” he said.

The first day of the conference, which will be held at the Air Force House in Herzliya, will feature an address by Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin as well as by Maj.-Gen. (res) Amos Gilad and Col. (res.) Danny Shapira.

MFO Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Simon Andrew Stuart will also give a lecture on the use of aerial forces for the purpose of maintaining regional peace. Stuart commands the Multinational Force and Observers which is an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

On Tuesday evening, the participants are expected to meet with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters for a toast.

The conference participants will head to Tel Nof Airbase on Wednesday for joint aerial training in the IAF’s Lavi training aircraft, flying in the rear seat of the aircraft with Israeli air crews serving as instructors. The flight will be joined by an F-35i Adir stealth fighter jet from the 140 Golden Eagle Squadron, and will pass over Israel’s coastline as well as Haifa, Nazareth, the Jordan Valley, Kinneret and Dead Sea.

The officials are also set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Various IAF platforms such as the F-15, F16 and F16i, C-130J Super Hercules, CH-53 Yasur, Blackhawk, Apache – as well as UAVs such as the Heron TP and Hermes – will be displayed alongside air defense systems manufactured by Israeli defense companies.

The last day of the conference will be held in Jerusalem. It will begin with a tour during which the commanders will be briefed on the history of the IAF and the importance of its heritage and commemoration. The conference will close with a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.