Defense

November 10, 2017
 

Increasing interoperability at Blue Flag Israel 17

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Senior Airman Abby L. Finkel
Uvda AB, Israel

Four F-16C Fighting Falcons assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, prepare to take off at Uvda Air Base, Israel, Nov. 6, during Blue Flag 2017. This biennial exercise is essential to building and maintaining defensive interoperability.

Approximately 200 U.S. Air Force Airmen and seven F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, are participating in Blue Flag 2017 at Uvda Air Base, Israel, which kicked off Nov. 6.

The third iteration of a biennial Israeli-hosted exercise, Blue Flag 17 is a multinational live-fly training event aimed at improving coordination, integration and tactical effectiveness between U.S., Israel and six other partner nation air forces.

Throughout the duration of Blue Flag, pilots from each nation fly together on a variety of training missions.

“We started with simple missions to get used to the local area, working together, and the administrative coming and going from the airspace,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Freeborn, 510th Fighter Squadron commander, “and then we are continually layering complexity onto these simple missions.”

Two F-16C Fighting Falcons assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, taxi after landing at Uvda Air Base, Israel, Nov. 6, during Blue Flag 2017. The U.S. and Israel have a strong and enduring military-to-military partnership built on trust and developed over decades of cooperation.

Practice missions include defensive counter air operations, interdiction, large-force exercises and electronic warfare range work.

“The ranges they have here are nothing like we have back home in Italy,” Freeborn said. “[The Israelis] have very realistic targets and surface threats that we can train against.”

The exercise also gives participating nations an opportunity to perform ground and flying operations in new surroundings.

An F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, prepares to land at Uvda Air Base, Israel, Nov. 5, during Blue Flag 2017. The U.S. and Israel’s continuing contributions to develop and improve air readiness are significant in maintaining security and building a strong partnership.

“The opportunity to fly out of an unfamiliar airfield, in unfamiliar airspace, with a broadly different group of partners is really priceless training,” Freeborn said.

“It’s a great test for the aircrew especially,” he continued, “and having to generate sorties from an airfield without all of the home station support is a great test for our maintenance and logistics personnel too. It’s a high pace for everyone while we’re here.”

The U.S. Air Force regularly participates in training exercises such as Blue Flag. Multinational training exercises are an integral part of maintaining interoperability, as well as ensuring all participating nations can work together seamlessly if called upon in the future.
 

Lt. Col. Benjamin Freeborn, 510th Fighter Squadron commander, taxis his F-16C Fighting Falcon back to the hardened shelter after a morning sortie at Uvda Air Base, Israel, Nov. 6, during Blue Flag 2017. U.S. Air Force participation in the exercise supports our nation’s commitment to Israel’s defense.

 

An F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, sits in a hardened shelter at Uvda Air Base, Israel, Nov. 6, during Blue Flag 2017. Cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is important to stability in the Middle East and reflects a common understanding of the global security environment.

 

An F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, taxis past American, Israeli and Israeli air force flags during Blue Flag 17 at Uvda Air Base, Israel, Nov. 5. The U.S. and Israel share a strong and long-lasting relationship in addition to a close military partnership, and exercises like this further strengthen the relationship of our nations and promote regional peace and stability.




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