This week, after being put on hold for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Onisilos Gedeon” exercise was held with the participation of IAF transport and fighter squadrons, in cooperation with the Cypriot National Guard. “Conducting the exercise during the current period is challenging, but the desire to enhance ties and cooperation between the two militaries is strong, and makes for an important and meaningful exercise”.
For several years now, the IAF has conducted the bi-annual “Onisilos Gedeon” exercise in cooperation with the Cyprus Air Force. However, due to the global spread of the Coronavirus, the exercise has not been held in a year. The Cyprus Military does not own any fighter jets, only helicopters, air defense, and air control systems. Therefore, the IAF sends formations of combat aircraft to the skies over Cyprus, to enable them to train with their air defense and control systems.
“Cooperation with the Cyprus Air Force is very meaningful for both us and them. Conducting the exercise during the current period is challenging, but the desire to enhance ties and cooperation between the two militaries is strong, and makes for an important and meaningful exercise”, explained Capt. T, head of the exercise from the 119th (“The Bat”) Squadron, which operates “Sufa” F-16I aircraft. “We have the opportunity to fly in foreign territory and train our capabilities in varying ways, while our partners in Cyprus get to practice and train with their systems against fighter jets”.
Attack and Defense
The exercise trains aircrews from the various participating squadrons in several aspects – Aerial refueling, air control, attack missions, evading the enemy, and emergency landing, with the 119th Squadron’s main task being air-to-air combat in the skies over Cyprus. “We divided into two formations of three and four jets. To simulate real situations, one flew to ‘attack’ the island and the other went to ‘defend’ it”, described Capt. T. “At the same time, airborne controllers from the 122nd Squadron, accompanied and provided air control to the attacking formation, while the defending formation was guided by Cypriot controllers on the ground. This is a significant exercise for the Cyprus Air Force, as they don’t routinely train with combat aircraft”.
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