For the first time in 100 years, German fighter pilots are in the skies over the Holy Land, alongside those of India, France, Greece, Poland, Italy and the United States.
They’re completing their first week in the face-off against the renowned Red Squadron of the Israel Air Force in the world’s largest aerial exercise, Blue Flag 2017.
Nearly 100 aircraft and hundreds of crew members are involved in the multi-national exercise taking place from Nov. 2-16 in southern Israel. The delegations are flying out of Ovda Air Base near Eilat.
IAF officials said Blue Flag 2017 is aimed at strengthening operational capability, combat experience and knowledge in coordinating command and control among coalition forces in high-threat theaters.
The main focus of this year’s exercise has been on reconnaissance, air strikes and SEAD operations, with drills taking place over desert and sea, at night and during the day.
The exercise involves use of electronic warfare — a first for some of the pilots — and also helps some of the crews learn how to deal with possible impact of dusty conditions on operation of sensors in the Middle East.