U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein visited Israel last week.
On Thursday, he met with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, touting the relationship between the two countries.
“The U.S. and Israel enjoy a strong and enduring military-to-military partnership—one we’ve built upon trust developed over decades of cooperation,” said Goldfein. “What an honor and privilege to be here in Israel. We thank you all for your hospitality and look forward to building on our already rock-solid alliance.”
Rivlin noted the symbolism of the past week’s Blue Flag international joint air-force operations, “working shoulder to shoulder” even as rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.
“We know that your support and the information exchanges between us are a solid basis for IDF operations,” he said. “Our deep appreciation and thanks for the cooperation.”
The following day, Goldfein met with Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Israeli Air Force Commander Amikam Norkin, who presented Goldfein with the Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation.
“If I have one message, it is that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you,” said Goldfein. “We always have, and we always will.”
Goldfein and Norkin “discussed military cooperation between the two countries, the Blue Flag exercise, the air force’s transition to fifth-generation jets, as well as security, cooperation and strategic matters,” said the IDF in a statement.
After 10 days, the Blue Flag exercise concluded.
“The exercise pit 70 combat planes from five air forces against each other in 19 sorties across six different locations around the country. Six more countries sent observers,” reported The Times of Israel. “The drill included the use of Patriot missile batteries to simulate advanced anti-aircraft fire, likely meant to mimic the Russian-supplied S-300 system.”