The Israeli Air Force has completed the biennial multinational fighter exercise Blue Flag 2019 in Uvda Air Base.
Blue Flag 2019 began on 3 November and involved around 1,000 participants and 70 aircraft from five countries.
The participating nations included Israel, the US, Germany, Greece and Italy.
Israeli assets in the exercise included F-35I, also known as the ‘Adir’, the F-15, and the F-16I aircraft. The US was represented by 12 F-16C aircraft and around 250 airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
The fighter exercise offers the participating forces with multi-domain training missions.
This year’s exercise saw the forces split into two teams, the red and the blue forces.
During the first week of Blue Flag, the blue forces were tasked with protecting Israel’s skies against enemy threats.
An Israeli Air Force Squadron commander said: “Sky defence is not common in Nato countries. We teach the international forces how to protect the country’s skies, just like we see it in our operational day-to-day activity in Israel.”
The blue forces attacked targets in red force territory in the second week.
This is the first time the Adir aircraft participated in the Blue Flag exercise.
The commander added: “The F-35 aircraft brings a significant advantage to the theatre, which allows the other aircraft to carry on with their missions while handling oncoming threats.”
As part of the drills, aircraft were pitted against Israeli Patriot batteries, which acted as surface-to-air missiles.
Blue Flag 2019 allowed the aircrews of the five countries to increase interoperability.
For the US, the exercise provided an opportunity to practise low-altitude flying.
USAF 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot captain Andrew Burns said: “Israel provides a great opportunity to fly at a low altitude as well as fly against live emitters, which is great training.”
The combined training drills involved several fourth and fifth-generation aircraft.