Israel’s Blue Flag exercise began on 2 November, with the activity attracting a record number of participating air forces.

During the two-week exercise, 70 aircraft will train in collaboration with the Israeli air force’s Lockheed Martin F-16C-equipped “Red squadron” aggressor unit, based at Uvda air base. The previous Blue Flag-series event, staged in 2015, attracted four foreign nations.

This time France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Poland and the USA are so far confirmed as participating.

Israeli assets involved in the activity include F-16s and Boeing F-15 units, plus tactical transports, electronic warfare aircraft, helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. The Greek, Polish and US air forces have assigned F-16s; France Dassault Mirage 2000Ds and Rafales; Germany Eurofighter Typhoons; and Italy Panavia Tornados. India has also deployed Lockheed C-130J transports.

“We are preparing a long list of scenarios based on the Israeli air force’s combat experience,” Uvda air base’s commander – who can be identified only as Col I – said ahead of the event starting. Training will include the simulated threat posed by advanced surface-to-air missiles.