British and Israeli Air Forces Conduct Emergency Drill at Sea
JNS.org – Rescue teams from the British Army’s naval and air forces concluded a three-day joint emergency drill with their Israeli counterparts on Wednesday, in the largest such exercise in 10 years.
British Royal Navy rescue fighters, who operate the UK Royal Air Force’s win-engine Bell 412 helicopter, were hosted by Israel’s Black Hawk helicopter squadron at the Palmachim Airbase near the city of Rishon LeZion on the Mediterranean coast.
The British squadron that joined in the exercise is usually posted at Cyprus’s Akrotiri base.
Throughout Wednesday’s drill, the pilots and soldiers from both countries trained several miles off Israel’s coast, and practiced emergency rescue situations involving civilians trapped on ships in stormy weather.
“In the main, they focus on locating and rescuing civilians in the sea. We are also doing this on land in combat zones, under fire, for soldiers who have been wounded in enemy territory,” said the commander of the Israeli helicopter squadron, Lt. Col Gilad, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
“We learned a lot from [the British forces] over the last few days,” he added. “They were in our helicopters and we were in their helicopters. We saw, for example, that they use rescue tactics from the side of the ship, whereas we descend directly onto the deck.”
In early June, Israeli representatives observed a four-day international maritime drill known as “Exercise Argonaut” in Cyprus, involving naval forces from the UK, Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Hungary and the US.