The impending nuclear deal coupled with Russia’s supplying Iran with the S-300 anti-air missile system has made a military solution to a potential crisis in Iran more difficult for Israel to implement. In order to prepare for such an eventuality, the IAF recently ran a joint training exercise with the Greek military.
The mission took place from April 20-30, when Israel joined the Hellenic Air Force’s INIOHOS-2015 exercise, one of its largest annual drills, in which at least 150 combat planes from all HAF squadrons took part. According to reports, Israel deployed a force of ten F-161 jet fighters from four squadrons, and its aircraft were joined by US Air Force in Europe personnel acting as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.
As described in SputnikNews, the Israeli exercise focused around the two S-300 batteries stationed on the Island of Crete. The maneuvers were aimed at testing out different tactics against the S-300, in simulated attacks against ground targets protected by S-300 batteries. Greece acquired the S-300 system from Russia in the late 1990s and is the only member of NATO which has the system in service. According to technical data Israel has acquired, the S-300 system is capable of hitting aerial targets at a distance of 150 kilometers, and an altitude of up to 27,000 meters.
The site, THE AVIATIONIST, revealed that during the exercise the commander of the Israeli air force, Gen. Amir Eshel, visited he pilots in Greece, and personally took part in at least one trip over the Aegean Sea, when he flew with his counterpart in Greece, Lieutenant General Christos and Aiitzis (VAIITSIS), who flew an F -16D.
This is not the first joint exercise involving Israel and Greek cooperation. A joint maneuver was held in 2013, which also involved US forces, Italy, and Greece. In May 2010, a jont air exercise was held involving 10 IAF planes – five F-15I Rams and five F16I Sufas – and 15 Greek F16s at the Greek air base in Souda Bay, on the island of Crete.
When considering the threat the S-300 factor has on Israel’s ability against Iran, it should also be considered that the IAF is presently in the middle of a deal to purchase 19 of the advanced F-35 fighter jets from America. The total cost of the deal is $2.75 billion and the IAF has the option to purchase a total of 75 of the Lockheed-Martin aircraft.