Israel to host seven overseas air forces for largest ever drill
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Israel to host seven overseas air forces for largest ever drill

France, Germany, India and Italy to join previous participants Greece, Poland and US for massive exercise with IAF

Israeli and foreign fighter jets fly in formation through cloudy skies over the Negev desert during the 'Blue Flag' exercise at Ovda Airfield near Eilat on October 27, 2015. (Israeli Air Force)
Israeli and foreign fighter jets fly in formation through cloudy skies over the Negev desert during the 'Blue Flag' exercise at Ovda Airfield near Eilat on October 27, 2015. (Israeli Air Force)

Israel will host air forces from seven countries this fall for a drill hailed as the largest exercise ever held in the skies above Israel.

France, Germany, India and Italy will be actively joining previous participants Greece, Poland and the US, in what Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the IAF’s international affairs chief, hailed as the biggest air exercise to take place in Israel’s skies, according to a report in Defense News Thursday.

Nearly 100 aircraft and several hundred crew will take part in the latest two-week drill, which has been held twice so far, in 2013 and 2015.

As in the past, this year’s event is expected to see hundreds of sorties throughout the nation’s airspace as participants practice air-to-air battles, ground attacks on fixed- and moving targets, and maneuvering among threats from surface-to-air batteries and shoulder-launched missiles, Defense News said.

Officers and other representatives from nearly 40 countries will also attend.

“People are seeing there’s a lot to learn from Israel. In our tiny airspace and in the environment around us, things are so intense. The Russians are here. … Many of the world’s air forces are passing through here on their way to operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. So we provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats,” Hecht said.

Israeli planes have carried out a number of sorties against weapons convoys in Syria, reportedly raising tensions with Russia.

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