An Israeli Air Force F-16 et takes part in the exercise ‘Blue Flag-17’exercise

Pune 09 Nov 2017 (PCP NEWS) : A 45-member contingent of Indian Air Force (IAF) is in Israel to take part in ‘Blue Flag-17′, a two-week multilateral military exercise, in what is believed to be the largest joint-combat drill in Israeli history.

The 45-member Indian contingent, led by Group Captian Maluk Singh VSM, is also closely working with Israel’s select Special Forces during the Blue Flag aerial training exercise with the focus on learning what makes them excel at special operations. The IAF commandos left to take part in the exercise ‘Blue Flag-17’ on October 31, and are expected to boost capabilities and coordination with the air forces of Israel and eight other nations. The exercises are being conducted at Uvda Air Force Base in Israel from November 2-16.

Blue Flag is a bi-annual multilateral exercise which aims to strengthen military cooperation amongst participating nations. The Blue Flag drill is a biannual exercise designed to strengthen Israel’s military cooperation internationally. This is the first time India is participating in the drill, along with the US, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Poland. An unidentified eighth nation is also said to be participating in the military exercise as per local media of Israel.

Indian officer leading the Garud commandos told PCP News that, “We would look to learn and share with them the procedures followed in mutual inter operability, counter-terrorist operations, a method of inducting and training people and try and compare to see if a course correction is required at our end,”. “The Israelis are more battle-hardened as they have more experience in cross-border operations and we can learn from their experiences,” the officer added.

Lt Col Nadav, Commander of the 133rd Squadron (Knights of the Twin Tail), which operates ‘Falcon’ (F-15) fighter jets is leading the exercise, described it as a “significant milestone in the relationship between the Israeli Air Force and international air forces”. “This exercise will allow us to continue cooperating with these forces in the future as well,” he said. The Garud commandos will be collaborating for a week each with Israeli Air Force’s elite units – Unit 5101 (more commonly referred to as the Shaldag Commando unit) and Unit 669 (Airborne Rescue And Evacuation Unit). The Garud commandos started training with Unit 669 earlier this week on Sunday and would be moving to the Palmachim Air Force base next week to train with the Shaldag Unit.

As part of the exercise, foreign crews will practice handling the threat of advanced surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, with the Israeli Air Force’s so-called Red Squadron playing the role of the enemy. The exercise will include flights in formation with planes from different countries, with no countries opposing each other. Israel is among the top three to four arms suppliers to India with sales ranging from Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) and Searcher, Heron and Harop UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to Aerostat and Green Pine radars, Barak anti-missile defense and several types of missiles and laser-guided bombs. PCP/SDJ 14 30

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