The Biggest: The Blue Flag Drill at the Ouvda Airbase This week, the year 2013 comes to to an end, and a new year takes its place. Just a moment before the year 2014 begins, IAF Site looks back and summarizes all the events this year that took place in the force: the farthest exercise, the largest training session, the most extensive cooperation, and a glimpse of the future
The Biggest: The “Blue Flag” training session in Ouvda
In the month of November, dozens of American, Greek, and Italian fighter jets landed in Israel and trained together with Israeli fighter squadrons in the international “Blue Flag” exercise, which was held at the Ouvda airbase. Over a period of several weeks, they flew alongside one another and practiced complex flight plans above the skies of the Negev. This was the largest aerial exercise ever held in the skies of Israel and in the IAF.
The Farthest: The long-range training session of the fighter squadrons
In the month of October, IAF fighter squadron took part in a special training session on long-range flight. During the flight, the aircrews practiced everything that a training session like this demands: from planning in the operations department and in the squadrons to the flight itself to the aerial refueling and management from the control center of the force. The commander of one of the squadrons that took part in the training session talked about the challenges the squadrons encountered throughout the training session: weather conditions, foreign territory conditions, the complex planning and possible threats.
The Most Extensive: International Cooperation
This year, the IAF was busy making contacts overseas. This year saw eight different air force commanders land in Israel. Among them was the commander of the Bulgarian Air Force who arrived for his first visit and began planning for a joint future between both forces. “In the future, the Bulgarian Air Force would be interested in expanding the training to additional flight platforms and missions”, he said during his visit.
The Newest: The Future Planes of the IAF
This year, the IAF was focused on the arrival of its future planes: a training plane, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master; a fighter jet, the F-35(I); and a heavy transport plane, the Hercules C-130J. This month, an official inauguration ceremony was held for the reopened “Elephants” squadron, which will operate the Hercules C-130J planes after they land in Israel next year.
The Safest: A Fifth “Iron Dome” Battery
In the month of April, a fifth “Iron Dome” battery was set up. The battery predates the initial operational start date chosen for it by about half a year, as it was added to the Aerial Defense Division during Operation Pillar of Defense. Prior to the operation, it was specifically designed to be operated by soldiers performing reserve duty. However, upon assessing the situation at the end of the operation, it was decided that the regular army regiment of the “Iron Dome” should be expanded. These days, a sixth battery is being set up, which will be for soldiers performing reserve duty.