Today, Israel kicked off its largest international aerial training exercise ever - coined: Blue Flag 2017.
Air-forces from nine countries with about 50 planes are now starting to drill in the most southern region of the country utilizing Uvda Air Base in Israel. Teams from India, the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Italy and Germany with be flying over 300 sorties simulating ‘real war’.
According to Israel Defense,
Throughout the first week of the two-week-long exercise, the international aircrews will acclimate themselves to the base and get to know each other. Throughout the second week, the participants will rehearse complex scenarios and coalition flights.
During some of the sorties, the participants will fly against the “Flying Dragon” Squadron, the IAF’s aggressor squadron, which will simulate enemy forces via “enemy” aircraft, SAM (Surface-to-air missile) batteries and MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense systems).
Lt. Col. Nadav, Commander of the 133rd Squadron (“Knights of the Twin Tail”), which operates “Baz” (F-15) fighter jets and is heading up the drill says,
“...the Blue Flag exercise is a significant quantum leap in our ability to hold an exercise and provide our multi-national participants with a quality training experience as performed in Israel. This is a significant milestone in our relationship with the international air forces, some of which are arriving in Israel to train for the first time. This exercise will allow us to continue cooperating with these forces in the future as well.”
The Indian Air Force sent a C-130J transport plane, other countries sent fighter jets, transport planes and refueling aircraft. Israel Defense notes some other various types of aircraft participating in the war games,
Participating on behalf of Israel are a “Baz” (F-15) squadron, a “Sufa” (F-16I) squadron and two “Barak” (F-16C/D) squadrons, alongside tactical transport aircraft, helicopters, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and EL (Electronic Warfare).
The US, Hellenic, and Polish air forces arrived with F-16 fighters; the French with “Mirage” 2000D fighters; the Germans with “Eurofighter Typhoon” jets; the Italians with variants of the “Panavia Tornado” multirole fighter and the Indians with a C-130J “Super Hercules.”
According to Maj. (res.) Tal, Head of the Blue Flag Management Team:
“One of the more significant ways to improve international relationships and connect countries is to create military cooperation. The IAF is Israel’s ‘display window,’ and the direct encounter between the air forces is an inseparable part of forming strong, continuous relationships with other countries, near or far.”
Israel: The BLUE FLAG exercise will take place at the Uvda Air Force base in Southern Israel from five November until sixteen November. 05-11-2017 pic.twitter.com/Mtb6Na9Xh2— Rowan Van Dijk (@Lastkombo) November 5, 2017
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Meanwhile, across the sand dunes this evening, a far more interesting story is developing, and could shed light on the end game for Blue Flag 2017. Yesterday we reported that the Saudis intercepted a ballistic missile over the nation’s capital of Riyadh. Now the Saudis call the missile attack “blatant act of aggression” by Iran and “could be considered act of war”.
The smell of war is in the air and simultaneously Israel and other countries are drilling for ‘real war’. As, what we’ve seen before – drills sometime go live.