Israeli F-35i fighter jets escort two American B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace on their way back from the Persian Gulf, in an apparent show of force to Iran amid tensions in the region.
“The flight took place as part of the increasing cooperation with the US military, which is a significant component of the national security of the State of Israel, maintaining regional stability and thwarting regional threats,” the Israel Defense Forces says in a statement.
In a video published by the IDF, an Israeli pilot can be heard saying over the radio to the American pilots: “This is the Israeli Air Force. Welcome to Israel, we hope you have a safe flight.”
הטיסה התקיימה כחלק משיתוף הפעולה ההולך וגובר עם צבא ארה"ב. שיתוף הפעולה מהווה רכיב משמעותי בבטחון הלאומי של מדינת ישראל, שומר על היציבות במזרח התיכון ומסכל איומים אזוריים>> pic.twitter.com/kR7wXMM6z5
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 10, 2022
Israeli jets escorting American bombers have become a regular fixture in the skies of the Middle East in the past year, as tensions between Tehran and the West have risen amid an attempt to negotiate a new deal that would block the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
In the past, F-16 or F-15 jets would escort the bombers. Today’s flight marks the first time Israeli F-35 jets are escorting US aircraft, according to the IDF.