report by: Danny BONNY
During the first half of november 2017, Ovda Airbase hosted the third edition of the biennial multinational military exercise Blue Flag 2017. Ovda was chosen as the base for the Blue Flag series of exercises due to is its excellent facilities, some purpose built, for all the visiting units and armed forces that congregate here every two years. Located in the Negev desert, in the southern part of Israel, Ovda is a military airbase and civilian airport in the Uvda region. The airport is about 60 km north of Eliat, Israel’s harbor city on the Red Sea, and a 4-hour drive away from the city of Tel Aviv.
This was the third iteration of the exercise and involved over a thousand aircrews and ground personnel and in excess of 100 aircraft from France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Poland and the United States.Blue Flag 2017was explained by Israeli officials as having three common goals. These were to strengthen diplomatic relations between the countries taking part, expose the participating countries militaries to new tactics and techniques, and to improve military co-operation by forcing the air forces to work together.
The Hellenic, Polish and US air forces all arrived with F-16 fighters (C, CJ, and D models), while the French brought Mirage 2000D fighters and the Germans Eurofighter EF2000s. The Italian contingent consisted of Tornado ECRs for the suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) role. The Indian Air Force brought an C-130J airlifter and special forces.
Israeli Air Force Participation were represented by an F-15 Baz squadron, an F-16I Sufa squadron and two F-16C/D Barak squadrons, alongside tactical transport aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare assets.
The goal of the Blue Flag training exercise is to simulate extreme combat scenarios and coalition air operations as realistically as possible, with the aim of enhancing multinational cooperation, maximizing and improving the combat readiness of all air forces involved with the realization of experience gained from international exercises.
During the first week of the exercise, the international aircrews acclimatised themselves to the base and got to know each other. In the second week, the participants rehearsed complex scenarios and flew co-ordinated missions. . During some missions, the participants flew against the ‘Red Dragon’ Squadron, the Israeli Air Force’s aggressor unit.
Typical air operations included Defensive Counter Air (DCA) missions, electronic warfare, low-level commando landing missions, GCI (Ground Controlled Intercept) tactical cooperation with the blue forces, Blue versus Blue training, CAS missions and SEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) operations. Normally, the flying activity saw two mass launches per day, with 1,5 hours of operational flying for each wave.Globalairpower was very please to get the media-day held by IAF and would like to thank all the poeple that helped to make possible this report.