The Israeli Navy is taking part in one of the largest US-led naval exercise in the Red Sea, the Times of Israel has reported. This is the first time that the occupation state has taken part in such an exercise in the important waterway.
"The Israeli Navy will join 60 naval fleets for the US Navy-led 'IMX' International Naval Exercise," said the Israel Defence Forces. "For the first time, our Flotilla 3 and Underwater Warfare Unit will train with the US 5th Fleet in the Red Sea. We look forward to strengthening security and global cooperation."
Led by US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), along with US Naval Forces Europe-Africa in East African coastal regions and the West Indian Ocean, IMX will last eighteen days and is described by NAVCENT as the "largest unmanned exercise in the world" with more than eighty unmanned systems from ten countries involved.
IMX began yesterday and is expected to last nearly three weeks, ending on 17 February. It will cover the Arabian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, where Israel will participate.
"The exercise will allow participating forces to test unmanned systems and artificial intelligence in different training scenarios and ultimately apply the lessons learned to future real-world operations," explained the US Navy. "Training will also focus on enhancing capabilities in command and control, sea control, maritime security operations and mine countermeasures."
Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan are participating. None of them have diplomatic relations with Israel. The UAE and Bahrain, with which Israel has normalised relations, are also taking part.
In November, the Israeli Navy took part in a US 5th Fleet-led exercise in the Red Sea, alongside the UAE and Bahrain, in what Israeli officials said was meant to serve as a response to Iran's attacks against Israeli naval resources. Israel wants to push back as much as possible against Iranian presence anywhere near Israel-controlled territory, an official was quoted as saying.