Air Force to host 7 other nations for massive biennial Blue Flag exercise

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The Israeli Air Force will host a massive multi-national aerial exercise beginning next week and lasting through the end of the month, which will include fly-bys over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Teams from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Greece and India will participate in the biennial Blue Flag exercise, the Israel Defense Forces says. A variety of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft will take part in the drill, including the F-35, F-15, Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale.

“During the exercise, the participants will simulate in-air battles and ground-to-air battles, and will practice dealing with the threat of advanced surface-to-air missiles and combat behind enemy lines,” the military says.

Though most of the participants have already landed in Israel, the exercise will formally kick off on Sunday and will conclude on October 28. It will be run out of the Ovda airbase, near Eilat.

Israeli and foreign fighter jets fly in formation over the Negev Desert during the ‘Blue Flag’ exercise at Ovda Airfield near Eilat, on October 21, 2015. (Israeli Air Force)

On the first day of the exercise, the Israeli Air Force and German Luftwaffe will conduct a fly-by over Jerusalem and will use colored smoke to “paint” the skies with the colors of the Israeli and German flags, the military says.

“The fly-by expresses the strong partnership and connection between the air forces and the countries, as well as the commitment to the continued cooperation in the future,” the IDF says.

The fighter jets participating in the exercise will also perform another fly-by over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, at low altitude, on Sunday afternoon.

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