The Indian Air Force is one of the IAF’s closest partners in the past few years. As a part of a process to strengthen the relationship between the forces, Indian Air Force Commander, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, visited the IAF, a key visit in expanding the two forces’ mutual activity
“The military cooperation with India is at the heart of our military interests”, shared Lt. Col. Sigal Benglass, head of International Affairs Branch in the IAF. “India is a very significant country, its air force is large and it operates a variety of western and eastern platforms. This was a unique visit in Air Force terms in which we were able to present the regional and strategic situation, the different threats, and our assortment of simulators and training concepts with the Commander of the Indian Air Force”.
The Indian Military is one of the largest militaries in the world, with its air force being the fourth largest in size in the world. Its strategic status is also strengthening due to its amount of servicemen and women its technological development. “India is an important country in the East that the entire world looks to”, explained Lt. Col. Tzviki, Deputy Military attaché in the IDF and Ministry of Defense Mission to India. “It has a large and developed air force, which operates many Israeli made cutting edge weapon systems also operated by the Israeli Air Force, a fact that creates a basis for cooperation”.
Due to the tangent lines between the militaries, the importance of the cooperation between the Israeli and Indian Air Forces enhance, with the goal of promoting issues in multiple fields such as power building, operation concepts and a future work plan. “The options with India are tremendous and significant and we have to work step-by-step”, stated Lt. Col. Benglass. “The Indian Air Force is different from us in how it flies, trains and qualifies its personnel, differences that are an advantage to us. Until now, we have discussed common platforms and we are interested in expanding said discussion. Additionally, there is a significant cooperation between the Ministries of Defense as well as major processes at the political level. The greatest milestone we are expecting this year is the exchange of combat aircrews between the two countries, an exercise that will take place for the first time in history and will constitute of a significant milestone and a sign of things to come”.
Morals, threats and shared interests
Although it seems as if the two countries are basically different, and are positioned in different strategic areas, one could find many similarities between the two. India, just like Israel, faces a variety of security challenges such as fighting terror, dealing with threats alongside their borders and dealing with radical Islamism. “Our relations with India are may be young, but they’re very deep”, stated Lt. Col. Tzviki. “The two countries are democratic countries in complex areas. On the basis of common moral ground, interests and threats, a deep friendship began”.
India also has a central role in the Middle East – Commander of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force that is located on the northern border of Israel, is Indian. “India has a central role in everything that takes place in the northern arena, a fact which has an influence and strategic importance for us”, stated Lt. Col. Tzviki.
“Cooperation begins with people”
This was Air Chief Marshall Raha’s first visit in Israel, who is also temporarily serving as Chief of General Staff. The visit is being held as a part of a process to strengthen and preserve the relationship between the official. The visit is a reciprocal visit as IAF commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, visited India last December. “Cooperation begins with people. It is built between commanders that delineate the path so that the intimate relationship that they build is used as a significant milestone in advancing towards a slow, true and consistent cooperation”, added Lt. Col. Benglass.
The Indian Air Force Commander’s visit is part of a series of visits the IAF is holding with officials from countries around the world. The mutual visits create personal connections and cooperation in fields such as power building, development processes and knowledge sharing. In addition, they give the IAF extended control in the aerial space close to Israel that is currently characterized with heavy movement of foreign aircraft, and gives legitimization to activity during and after war. “On the strategic level, the IAF is a part of significant cooperation and there has been great progress that can be attributed to many reasons such as the strategic situation and the spirit of the IAF Commander”, concluded Lt. Col. Benglass.