Joint Israeli-Greek military drill seen by some as rebuff to Turkey

Exercise, replacing annual Israeli-Turkish drill, simulates defense of gas installation from force resembling Turkish navy

An IDF missile boat (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
An IDF missile boat (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Israel, Greece and the US are conducting joint air and naval exercises this week, in part to simulate defending seaborne gas drilling installations around the eastern Mediterranean.

The exercises are also intended to simulate air-to-air combat and anti-submarine warfare and are being overseen by the US Sixth Fleet. According to multiple news outlets the exercises are scheduled from March 26 to April 5, but the IDF would not confirm those dates in response to a Times of Israel query.

Operation Noble Dina was inaugurated in 2011 in what is seen by some as a coup for Greece and reflective of diplomatic changes in the eastern Mediterranean, Haaretz reported.

The US had conducted similar exercises (“Reliant Mermaid”) with Turkey and Israel from 1998 to 2009, but these were canceled after Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan suspended military cooperation with Israel in 2010.

Since then Israel has pursued more military and economic ties with Turkish rivals Greece and Cyprus. Last week Israel, Greece and Cyprus announced a deal to cooperate on exploiting natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean.

While the long-running Reliant Mermaid was based on joint humanitarian search-and rescue missions, Noble Dina is much more military-oriented.

According to Haaretz, the 2012 exercises simulate possible conflict with forces that resemble the Turkish navy and were scheduled to begin in Greek waters near the Turkish coast, continue near Cyprus and end in the port of Haifa.

 

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