By the Australian Defence Business Review
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has hosted seven air forces at its biennial Exercise Blue Flag at Ovda Airbase near Eilat in southern Israel.
Blue Flag is described as an international training exercise hosting air forces from around the world to strengthen cooperation between the nations. This year, apart from F-16I, F-35I, and G550 AEW&C aircraft from the Israeli Air Force, the exercise included USAF F-16C/Ds from Germany, RAF Eurofighter Typhoons, Indian Air Force Mirage 2000s, Greek F-16C/Ds, Italian F-35As, and German Eurofighters.
Israeli F-16Is played the Red Force in the exercise, and were supported by an IDF Patriot SAM battery, and various emulators capable of simulating Russian S-75/SA-2, S-125/SA-3, 2K12/SA6, 9K33/SA-8 and Pantsir-S1/SA-22 SAM systems.
In an IAF release, IAF Commander, Maj Gen Amikam Norkin said, “This exercise is ground-breaking in terms of technology, quality of training, and the number of participating nations. It illustrates the partnership and strong bond between the nation’s air forces and acts as a stepping-stone toward regional and international cooperation.”
IAF officer Lt Col ‘E’ added, “The participants aren’t familiar with the airspace so we designed a gradual two-week-long training program. First, training scenarios designed to familiarise aircrew members with the airspace and its challenges will take place to allow for safe training in the days ahead.
“To start, each country will fly in separate formations and over time, we will begin flying in joint formations of different nations and platforms,” Lt Col ‘E’ added. “Also, we will perform singular training sessions with the aim of understanding the training ground and the aerial and ground forces it contains. Lastly, we will shift to air superiority situations, simulating various ground and aerial threats while completing varying operational missions.
“Due to the rise in the use of fifth-generation fighters around the world, this years’ Blue Flag exercise will also focus on combining them with other platforms in the battlefield. Air forces understand that, at least in the near future, they will not strictly operate fifth-gen aircraft, but also the older fourth-generation platforms.
“When planning the exercise, we tried to create heterogenic scenarios that combine different countries, squadrons, and generations. Fourth-generation aircraft will fly alongside fifth-generation aircraft in ways that utilize the relative advantages of each platform. Cooperation between different generation aircraft strongly enhances the power of an air force.”
The exercise marked the first deployment of British fighter squadron to Israel since the country was founded in 1947.
In a separate release, RAF 1Sqn commanding officer WgCdr John Cockroft said, “We are training to maintain and improve our performance and are honoured to be given this opportunity to learn as part of a multi-national audience. By training together, the UK, along with all of the other nations on Exercise Blue Flag, will continue to develop our relationships and understanding of how we fly and interact both in the air and on the ground.
“This multi-national training environment allows us to bring together different ideas and experiences and provides the opportunity to develop our tactics, techniques and procedures for the integration of the capabilities of our current and future aircraft.”
This article was written by Andrew McLaughlin and published by ADBR on October 27, 2021.
Featured photos: Credit: IDF
The lead photo is credited to the RAF.
And here is the RAF’s release on the exercise which was published on October 20, 2021:
An RAF detachment of Typhoon jets has joined units from several countries for a complex multi-national flying exercise designed to test aircrew skills to their limits.
The Typhoons from 1 (Fighter) Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth, supported by personnel from across the Air Force, are training with aircraft from the US, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, India and Israel in Exercise Blue Flag 21.
Exercise Blue Flag is one of a series of international flying exercises for the RAF in recent months, pitching a variety of jets into scenarios where they will fly against and with each other to develop interoperability of both aircrew, aircraft and other systems.
The scenarios will see 1 Squadron Typhoons working with Luftwaffe Eurofighters, French Rafales, Indian Mirages, Greek F16s, Italian F35s, US F16s and Israeli F35s and F16s.
According to Wing Commander Cockroft, Officer Commanding 1 Squadron: “We are training to maintain and improve our performance and are honoured to be given this opportunity to learn as part of a multi-national audience. By training together, the UK, along with all of the other nations on Exercise Blue Flag, will continue to develop our relationships and understanding of how we fly and interact both in the air and on the ground.”
The exercise, held at Ovda Airbase near Eilat, Israel, is the largest yet of a series of bi-annual exercises hosted by the Israeli Air Force.
Wing Commander Cockroft added: “This multi-national training environment allows us to bring together different ideas and experiences and provides the opportunity to develop our tactics, techniques and procedures for the integration of the capabilities of our current and future aircraft.”