Video: IAF and Yissachar Ruas

The Israeli Air Force held the fifth “Blue Flag” international exercise at the “Uvda” Air Force base, where significant deployments and major international exercises are held.

The exercise, which has taken place every years since 2013, has a great impact on the strategic international aspect of the State of Israel, making it a bridge for regional cooperation and advancing shared capabilities.

The exercise’s purpose is to simulate challenging combat scenarios and joint coalition flights in the most realistic manner.

The current Blue Flag exercise is the largest and most advanced so far, with the participation of eight countries training with the fourth generation aircraft along with fifth generation F-35s, which expands the IAF’s capabilities in the battlefield.

In addition, there will be an F-35 conference in the Nevatim Air Force Base during the exercise that will include the delegations from Italy, Norway, Netherlands, UK, US and Belgium.

The preparation for the exercise has been ongoing for the past 10 months, initially through online communications between the participating countries and later representatives from the countries arrived in Israel, and together built various training scenarios.

Within the first week of the exercise, the different air forces took flight during both day and night, dealing with advancing threats, each day of the exercise posing a greater challenge. The exercise poses a high standard of quality both in terms of instruction and research and in terms of the support given for the drills.

The exercise is taking place despite COVID-19, while maintaining the guidelines, including all participants being vaccinated and doing the required tests.

There are significant events taking place for the first time during the exercise. The deployment provides an opportunity to carry out a joint tactical flight facing a wide variety of threats with advanced technology. During the exercise there will be the first ever deployment of the British Fighter Squadron in Israel since the establishment of Israel, with “Eurofighter” aircraft, along with the first ever deployment of an Indian fighter squadron with “Mirage” fighter jets and a French fighter squadron deploying with “Raphael” aircraft.

During the exercise there will be a joint conference with the respective commanders of the air forces of the participating nations. For the first time ever, the commander of the United Arab Emirates Air Force will visit to see the exercise up close, the first visit since Israel signed the Abraham Accords.

“The Middle East is a complex arena, which changes at any given moment,” Commander of the Air Force, Major General Amikam Norkin said. “The threat to the State of Israel comes from different arenas – the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and more. The challenges we face are increasing and we make sure to be one step ahead of the enemy. The Air Force is constantly training to be ready for a wide range of emergency scenarios.”

He added: “The joint training allows us to learn from the various air forces participating in the exercise and prepares the Israeli Air Force personnel for real-time scenarios in order to succeed in our mission – maintaining the security of the State of Israel.”

Every participating country brings with it, in addition to its people and aircraft, its corporate culture and professional methods, which contribute to the challenge, the learning opportunity for all sides and specifically for mutual learning.

The countries that will arrive in order to learn from the exercise, but without active participation, will include Romania, Finland, South Korea, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and Croatia.