IDF, Germany exchange medals during Blue Flag exercise

IDF and German leaders exchanged medals as the two countries took part in the Blue Flag exercise in Israel.

 IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi presents Luftwaffe Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz with a Medal of Appreciation (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi presents Luftwaffe Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz with a Medal of Appreciation
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi presented a Medal of Appreciation to Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Commander Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz on Monday, as the Luftwaffe and Israel Air Force (IAF) were taking part in the international Blue Flag aerial exercise currently taking place in southern Israel.

The medal was given as a token of appreciation and respect for the close cooperation between the Israeli and German militaries.

"The training, the projects and the partnership, are what stand behind this medal," said Kohavi. "The State of Israel and the Israeli army appreciate and cherish your contribution and this is a great opportunity for us to express our appreciation. We have made an important connection in many arenas and areas, which is also reflected in the joint exercise that is taking place these days."

On Sunday, German Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer, awarded IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the country's highest honor that the German president can bestow, as a token of appreciation for mutual effort and commitment.

"This decoration is the greatest honor for us and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for agreeing to receive it, it is a symbol of appreciation for your important and outstanding contribution, for deepening and expanding relations between Israel and Germany," said Wasum-Rainer. 

 German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer (left) and Luftwaffe Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz present IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin (center) with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer (left) and Luftwaffe Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz present IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin (center) with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

"Our two countries have over the past decades managed to produce a strong partnership and a strong friendship over the abyss of the Holocaust against all historical odds. This cooperation was made possible thanks to the mannerliness and belief in reconciliation," added the ambassador "In these days, we are in the midst of the Blue Flag exercise in which Israeli and German fighter jets train wing to wing in order to be as prepared as possible for today's demanding security challenges."

"This cooperation is extremely relevant and of great operational importance for the security of our soldiers," said Gerhartz. "The connection between the two forces is not based on one project, but on many initiatives, all of which connect people and names."

"Dear Amikam, I would like to thank you for all the energy you have invested in these projects that are so close to your heart," added the Luftwaffe commander. "You are a valued military leader whose actions connect our two nations. This is an opportunity to express appreciation for the friendships that exist between our forces and the deep personal connection we have developed."

Blue Flag, which will continue until October 28. As well as the hosts, its participants include contingents from the air forces of the US, Germany, Italy, the UK, France, India and Greece. It is the largest and most advanced aerial exercise ever held in Israel.

The object of the exercise is to strengthen strategic international cooperation through shared learning about the integration of fourth- and fifth-generation combat aircraft in complex operational scenarios. The participating forces will practice air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, learning to evade advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats and a number of operational scenarios in enemy territory.

On Sunday, the Luftwaffe and IAF held a flypast of Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv coast, titled "The Wings of History." The formation was led by Norkin in an F-15 "Baz" fighter, alongside an "Adir" F-35 stealth jet. Gerhartz flew alongside the Israeli aircraft in the "Eagle Star" Eurofighter, which was painted with the Israeli and German flags.