On Sunday, November 24, for the first time in Israel’s history, the Israel Air Force launched the “Blue Flag” training exercise – an international air force exercise with participation by the US, Italian and Hellenic air forces.
This past Sunday, Nov. 24, the Israel Air Force launched – for the first time in Israel’s history – the Blue Flag international training exercise at the Ovda airbase in southern Israel. The large-scale international exercise is a joint exercise of the US, Italian and Hellenic air forces and will be held entirely in English. The exercise, which will continue through Thursday, Nov. 28, is a part of the IAF’s elite training program. The goal of the exercise is to improve Israel’s general air defense capabilities while learning together and cooperating with global allies.
US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, was present at the opening of the exercise. “Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood. We need the best equipped, best trained forces as possible to protect our people and our security,” he said. “We also need allies and we have great allies here…all training together and reinforcing a partnership that gets stronger with each passing year.”
The exercise involves workshops that simulated enemy forces as well as training missions to identify anti-aircraft missiles. The exercise showcases the Israel Air Force’s aerial capabilities. Just last month, the IAF conducted a special long-range flight exercise in which squadrons practiced refueling planes in midair, testing the IAF’s ability to fly exceptionally long distances.
Watch as the IAF refuels midair:
“For us, it is about training together,” a US Air Force soldier explained. “We have been leading up to this exercise for a couple years now. We’re here to continue to work together.”
“Blue Flag” has been in the works for over a year, and the IAF had conducted two training flights a day during the past six months in anticipation of the exercise, in addition to conducting a preparatory workshop earlier this year which had aerial teams train for flights conducted entirely in English.
Representatives from other countries observed the exercise, with the possibility of participating in future years.