Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Wikimedia
American, Italian and Israeli pilots at Blue Flag 2013
Israel Air Force will host the air forces of seven countries this fall, in the largest and most complex air exercise in its history, DefenseNews reported Tuesday.
Close to 100 aircraft and hundreds of pilots and crews from the US, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy will participate in Blue Flag, biennial, two-week maneuvers exercising planning, targeting and coordinated command and control in high-threat theaters.
The first Blue Flag took place in November 2013 at Ovda Air Force Base in Israel. The exercise, which included several foreign air forces, was aimed at expanding international cooperation. In 2015, the second Blue Flag included the air forces of the US, Greece and Poland.
IAF chief of international affairs Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told DN that “everybody wants to engage and cooperate with the IAF. It’s a privilege.”
Claiming bragging rights as the new humility, Hecht boasted that “people are seeing there’s a lot to learn from Israel. In our tiny airspace and in the environment around us, things are so intense. The Russians are here. … Many of the world’s air forces are passing through here on their way to operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. So we provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats.”
Hecht declined to reveal what is being planned for this year’s Blue Flag, but is safe to assume that the combined forces will conduct hundreds of sorties in Israel’s sky, practicing air-to-air battles, ground attacks on fixed- and moving targets, and maneuvering over surface-to-air batteries and shoulder-launched missiles.