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Royal Air Force Chief Discusses F-35 Build-Up, Impact of Drones During Israel Visit

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Israeli F-35 fighter jets are seen off the wing of a US Air Force refueling tanker, Oct. 12, 2020. Photo: US Air Force.

The British Royal Air Force’s Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Mike Wigston, concluded on Thursday a visit to Israel hosted by the Israeli Air Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin. The visit included a tour of the IAF’s 140 Golden Eagle Squadron to discuss the force build up of the F-35 fighter planes division and its influence on the Middle East.

The two also visited the 210 Eitan Squadron as part of a discussion on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, and their operational relevance in the Israeli Air Force. The 210 Squadron is part of the Defensive Sword Unit of the IAF’s air defense system.

“The connection with the Royal Air Force is of great importance to the Israeli Air Force. During the visit, we discussed cooperation between our forces, and discussed the situation in the Middle East. We will continue to promote strategic collaborations with the goal of continuing to learn from each other, improving, and strengthening ourselves along the way,” IAF’s Norkin said.

During the visit, Wigston toured the Israeli Air Force bases, Tel Nof, Palmachim and Nevatim. Wigston also took part in a joint flight with Norkin in the IAF’s F-15 aircraft from the 106th Squadron based at the Tel Nof airbase.

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“This has been an excellent opportunity to engage with the Israeli Air Force, to celebrate our common heritage, to nurture our enduring relationship, and to explore many areas of mutual interest,” Wigston said.

Additionally, Wigston met 101-year old Maj.-Gen. (Rtd) Dan Tolkovsky, a former RAF fighter pilot who served during the Second World War. On leaving the RAF in 1946 as a flight lieutenant, he then joined the newly created Israeli Air Force in 1948 and became the fifth Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force in 1953.

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