The Red Flag exercise aimed to prepare for this year's Blue Flag drill, which will involve cooperation with foreign air forces
The Israel Air Force held a large-scale exercise at the Ovda airbase in southern Israel last week, based on the Red Flag drill model used by the U.S. Air Force, in which dozens of aircraft simulate air battles.
The exercise was intended to prepare the IAF for the Blue Flag exercise, which will take place this year and will entail cooperation with foreign air forces. In addition to members of various squadrons, senior officers of the IAF – including Head of the Air Division Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin and Commander of the IAF Headquarters Brig. Gen. Hagi Topolansky – participated in the drill.
"Our goal is to improve the operational relationship, so that in real incidents we will be able to rely on our combat doctrine," explained the Commander of the IAF Headquarters.
Red Flag exercise. Photo: IAF
During the exercise, the squadrons were divided into a "red state" and a "blue state," with the latter aiming to attack various sites in the former state. Meanwhile, these sites were defended by the IAF's Flying Dragon Squadron, also known as the Red Squadron – a practice squadron stationed at the Ovda base with the goal of training fighter squadrons hosted by the base.
The exercise's other main participants were soldiers of air control units, who were responsible for supervising the air traffic. "We are integrating the control system into this exercise as much as possible," explained Col. (res.) Meir Ben Shaaya, formerly commander of the air control units. "One of our goals is to improve the cooperation between the air control system and members of air crews, and therefore we carry out joint investigations at the end of every flight."
The Red Squadron mimics the techniques of adversarial air forces, and its squadrons are among the best in the IAF. "This is a squadron consisting of professionals," Lt. Col. Tomer, commander of the Scorpion Squadron, said of the Red Squadron. "The drills with them always raise our level, and they present us with challenges that we don't deal with in everyday drills."
The Red Squadron prepared many surprises for the Blue Squadron, which the latter had to handle in real time and without any advance notice. "Our main goal is usually to present the greatest possible challenge to the squadron facing us, but in a large-scale exercise like this the main goal is for all of the forces to practice and learn," explained Maj. Yiftach, the Red Squadron's deputy commander.