The “Blue Flag” exercise, held in Uvda AFB, has ended. Aircrews from five countries, 70 aircraft and approximately 1,000 participants took part in the fighter exercise, held once every two years. This iteration was the first to include the participation of fifth-generation aircraft, including the “Adir” (F-35I). The countries which arrived to train are Germany, with the Eurofighter Typhoon; Italy with the F-35, Eurofighters and Gulfstream G-550; and Greece and the United States with the F-16. The Israeli participants include the “Baz” (F-15), the “Sufa” (F-16I) and the “Adir”.
The storyline guiding the exercise was based on two fictional neighboring countries, one blue and the other red. The scenarios included large aircraft formations, including fighter jets, RPAVs (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicles), transport aircraft and helicopters. The blue force’s mission during the first week of the exercise was protecting Israel’s skies against various enemy threats.
During the second week, the blue forces took off to attack targets in red force territory. The red force was made up of the force’s aggressor squadron – the 115th (“Flying Dragon”) Squadron – and the Air Defense Array’s “Yahalom” (Patriot) batteries, which acted as advanced SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) systems. “The reds started out easy during the first few flights, but we noticed their tactics changing as the days went by. They operated differently each day, and we had to act accordingly. Thanks to our mutual operation, we learned valuable lessons with each day.
Uvda AFB is home to several HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelters) in which the aircraft are parked. Seeing as the “Adir” jet is considerably tall, it does not fit into a standard HAS. This means that Uvda is now capable of housing the ‘Adir’. Not all IAF airbases are capable of doing so, and this action is of great significance
Besides the interpersonal relationships between the exercise’s participants, the “Blue Flag” is also of great political importance between Israel and the international forces. “The significance of this exercise cannot be undervalued”, concluded Col. M’, Commander of Uvda AFB. “The four countries’ cooperation with Israel sets up the ground for many wonderful future opportunities. The airbase has an opportunity to open its doors and show these countries the air force and its strength”.