The Israel Air Force (IAF) and German Luftwaffe flew over the Knesset in Jerusalem on Sunday, as the international Blue Flag exercise launched with the participation of seven countries.
Blue Flag, which will take place until October 28, will include air force soldiers from the US, Germany, Italy, the UK, France, India and Greece. This is the largest and most advanced aerial exercise ever hosted in Israel.
This is the first time that British fighter jets will take part in an exercise in Israel since the British Mandate, the first time that an Indian "Mirage" fighter squadron will ever be deployed in Israel and the first deployment of a French "Rafale" fighter squadron in Israel.
The exercise is meant to strengthen strategic international cooperation through shared learning about the integration of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft in complex operational scenarios. The participating forces will drill air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats and a number of operational scenarios in enemy territory.
The flyover of Jerusalem, titled "The Wings of History," was led by IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin in a "Baz" F-15 fighter jet, alongside an "Adir" F-35. Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz flew alongside the Israeli aircraft in the "Eagle Star" Eurofighter, which was painted with the Israeli and German flags.
Active air traffic will also be noticeable in Tel Aviv at 4:45 p.m. and in Jerusalem from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. as part of the exercise.
"We are living in a very complicated region, and the threats to the State of Israel from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran are only increasing," said Norkin. "Holding an international exercise in this current reality, while continuing our overt and covert operational activities on all fronts, is of utmost strategic importance and has extensive impact over the Israeli Air Force, the IDF and the State of Israel. This exercise is groundbreaking in terms of technology, quality of training, and the number of participating nations. It illustrates the partnership and strong bond between the nation's air forces and acts as a stepping-stone toward regional and international cooperation."