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IDF launches first-of-its-kind international drone exercise

Teams from the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and France to take part in the two-week drill, dubbed Blue Guardian, over central Israel

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Drone pilots from five countries and Israel pose in front of a Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicle during an international exercise, dubbed Blue Guardian, which launched on July 12, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
Drone pilots from five countries and Israel pose in front of a Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicle during an international exercise, dubbed Blue Guardian, which launched on July 12, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli Air Force launched a first-of-its-kind international drone exercise on Monday, hosting pilots from five other countries, the military said.

The drill, called Blue Guardian, is scheduled to last two weeks, during which time the foreign teams will fly Israeli Air Force Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicles.

“The teams will simulate various scenarios, including ground troop support, reconnaissance and intelligence collections missions and cooperation with various forces in the air,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

Teams from the United States, France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom are taking part in the drill.

An Israeli Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicle flies during an international exercise, dubbed Blue Guardian, which launched on July 12, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF said the exercise, the largest drone-focused drill ever, has “strategic importance” because of the air force’s cooperation with foreign countries.

“The State of Israel is a pioneer in the field of UAVs. This exercise presents a platform for mutual study and growth. The exercise has national importance and influence in establishing the air force on the international level,” IAF chief Amikam Norkin said.

The exercise is being held on the military’s Palmachim Air Base in central Israel.

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