The New York Times is reporting that Israeli fighter pilots are in Germany for the first time, in a military exercise that brings benefits to both organizations. It comes more than 75 years after the end of the Nazi Holocaust and comes as the German military is struggling with signs of rising far-right sentiment in its ranks.
The cooperation is a chance for Germany’s outdated armed forces, which are considered a critical component of NATO, to learn from Israel’s highly trained fighter pilots. For Israel’s military, it is an opportunity to learn about NATO techniques and train in new airspaces, expanding its ability to carry out operations on different types of terrain.
German pilots have twice traveled to Israel for joint maneuvers in recent years, but this is the first time the Israelis are taking part in such exercises on German soil and over German air space. The first of six Israeli air force F-16 fighter jets touched down on Monday at the Nörvenich air base in western Germany, where they will hold joint training exercises over the next two weeks.
The historical significance was highlighted by Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, the Israeli Air Force’s commanding officer, who noted that for many of his fighters, past links to Germany were personal — and tragic. “Many I.A.F. fighters are grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and in the ’60s and ’70s of the last century, half of the I.A.F.’s pilots were Holocaust survivors themselves — and yet we believe this is the right thing to do,” he said at a ceremony last week. The 1st ever joint exercise between the Israeli Air Force and Team Luftwaffe in Germany will include a historic joint flyby above the Dachau concentration camp and the site of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.
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