Israel Air Force to Hold Wide-scale Multinational Exercise This Year

The exercise will be a follow-up to the Blue Flag exercise two years ago, in which the U.S., Italian and Greek air forces also participated.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Israel Air Force planes in training before landing at Hatzerim base (Nov. 6, 2014), where alleged gang rape took place.
Israel Air Force planes in training before landing at Hatzerim base (Nov. 6, 2014), where alleged gang rape took place.Credit: Reuters
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Air Force will participate in a wide-ranging international exercise in the next few months, as part of a “coalition” with air crews from several other countries, Haaretz has learned.

Dubbed Blue Flag, the Israel-led simulated combat exercise will be a follow-up to a similar exercise two years ago, with the participation of the United States, Italian and Greek air forces, as well as Israel. The purpose of that exercise was to rehearse a scenario involving “a high-intensity confrontation against a political entity with a strong army” – a goal set by the Israel Air Force in 2013.

This year’s exercise will be based on a similar scenario and is expected to involve crews from a number of countries, including the U.S. Air Force. An increased number of countries are expected to participate in the exercise as observers. Although observer countries will not take part in the the operational aspects of the exercise, including sorties, they will participate in the debriefing process and will be able to study joint aerial operations involving a number of countries.

The aim of the previous Blue Flag exercise, according to Israel Air Force sources, was to improve joint aerial operations comprising a number of countries and to rehearse other capabilities, such as military operations undertaken by a coalition of various forces.

Seven Israel Air Force squadrons took part in the previous exercise, with a similar number planned for this year. Aircraft from the foreign air forces taking part in the Israeli exercise are due to arrive in Israel in the next few months.

In another development, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, is expected in Israel this week for a working visit with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Dempsey is also expected to meet with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and to discuss strategic regional issue with him.

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