US, Greek, Italian and Israeli pilots at Blue Flag 2013. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90) (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
Israel to Host 7 Air Forces in Largest Drill in its History

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The IAF will host air forces from seven nations in the largest air drill in its history.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) will host air forces from seven nations later this year in the largest air drill in the Jewish state’s history.

Defense News (DN) reported Tuesday that some 100 aircraft and several hundreds pilots and support crews from the US, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy will arrive in Israel for Blue Flag. Officers and attaches from nearly 40 countries are also expected to attend as observers.

Established in 2013, Blue Flag is a biennial, two-week drill aimed at improving the type of planning, targeting and coordinated command and control required by coalitions operating together.

The goal of the exercise, conducted out of “Uvda” Airbase in the south, is to simulate extreme combat scenarios and fly in coalition as realistically as possible.

Among the seven participants, four are attending Blue Flag for the first time.

Everybody Wants to Train with Israel

“Everybody wants to engage and cooperate with the IAF. It’s a privilege,” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the IAF’s chief of international affairs, told DN.

“People are seeing there’s a lot to learn from Israel. In our tiny airspace and in the environment around us, things are so intense. The Russians are here. … Many of the world’s air forces are passing through here on their way to operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. So we provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats,” Hecht said.

Israel’s Blue Flag does not pit forces against one another; rather, it stresses cooperation over competition.

“It’s not a competitive event. It’s about partnerships, and we tailor parts of the drill to fit each nation’s requirements,” Hecht explained. “And it’s not only the exercise itself but the buildup to the exercise where you have all these nations planning together, getting to know one another, building relationships and talking about how we fight.”

“This is much bigger than anything we’ve done before, and we’re all excited for the opportunity to come together and build partnerships and share knowledge,” he concluded.

By: United with Israel Staff