Indian Air Force commandos took part in joint exercises with their Israeli counterparts on Monday – including the location and rescue of soldiers who fell behind enemy lines – as part of the ongoing “Blue Flag” drill, the largest air force exercise ever held in Israel.
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India sent pilots and members of its Garud Commando Force – the Indian Air Force’s special forces unit established in 2003 after terror attacks on two airports – to the two-week-long drill. Garud is the Indian equivalent of the Israel Air Force’s Unit 669, which was founded in 1974.
As well as locating soldiers, rescuing them under fire and getting them home by helicopter, the two forces also jointly drilled locating a pilot who had ejected over enemy territory, rescuing him under fire and getting him home by helicopter.
The Israeli commandos also demonstrated navigation without technology, techniques for survival in hostile territory, and “reading” the terrain during rescue missions.
The two air forces also practiced aerial refueling.
While the pilots were hosted at the Uvda air base in southern Israel, the commandos of the Indian and Israeli forces held their exercises at the Palmahim air base in central Israel.
Over 70 aircraft from seven countries are participating in the Blue Flag drill, which began on November 2. Air forces from Italy, France, the United States, Poland, Germany and Greece are also taking part. This is the first time German or French aircraft have trained in Israeli skies, and also the first time India has joined the biannual exercise.