Israel to host massive int’l air combat exercise


JERUSALEM, Jan. 2 — The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is gearing up to host its largest-ever multinational training session, with hundreds of foreign fighter pilots due to arrive here in the coming weeks, Channel 2 TV reported Wednesday.

The names of the participating countries were not disclosed, but only countries considered Israel’s close allies are invited to partake in such events.

Israeli pilots regularly attend Red Flag, an elaborate exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in the United States, whish is considered a prime venue for American aviators to share professional knowledge and train with their counterparts from NATO and other allied air forces worldwide.

The two-week event, held four to six times a year since 1975, is widely respected for providing realistic combat training scenarios, with Blue Forces (friendly) engaging Red Forces ( hostile). An exercise typically involves pilots practicing air combat, bombing of ground targets, defense maneuvers and air refueling.

“Israel can offer a great training ground — including low- altitude flying and drop zones for live ordnance — for pilots from all over the world,” Lt.-Col. Assaf, a pilot and one of the officers in charge of planning the event, told Channel 2.

He said the IAF’s familiarization with various weapons systems and rich operational experience could be of “great value” to visiting pilots.

Israeli air crews have flown in several joint maneuvers held abroad in recent years, alongside their counterparts from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Romania.

The IAF also maintains an aggressor squadron, known as the Flying Dragon, which trains its pilots in dogfighting techniques employed by other air forces in the Middle East.

The squadron, located at the southern Ramon Air Base, periodically hosts foreign counterparts.