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U.S F-35s will join a joint military exercise in Israel on Monday

US, Israel Launch Major Air Force Exercise in Message to Iran

The US and the IDF on Monday, January 23, launched what has been described by both some Israeli and US officials as the most significant large-scale joint exercise to date, in a not-so-veiled message to Iran and other adversaries.

Though an Israeli media outlet was informed by multiple senior officials of the exercise weeks ago as being extremely significant, it was under the condition of not publicizing it until it was officially announced.

The exercise, known as “the Juniper Oak” drills, will involve thousands of forces, a dozen ships, significant numbers of attack and intelligence collection drones and 142 aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, and runs through this entire week.

These drills are meant to demonstrate and deepen integration between the US and Israeli militaries, a senior US defense official said, and come at a time of growing tension over Iran's nuclear program.

Critical for any potential strike on the Islamic Republic, the exercise will involve midair refueling aircraft, including the IDF said, the KC-46 aircraft which Israel will eventually receive from the US.

Although the drills will likely draw interest from Tehran, the US official said there would be no mockups of Iranian targets and that the exercises weren't oriented around any particular adversary.

"I do think that the scale of the exercise is relevant to a whole range of scenarios, and Iran may draw certain inferences from that," the official acknowledged. "It's really meant mostly to kick the tires on our ability to do things at this scale with the Israelis against a whole range of different threats." (JPost / VFI News)

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