Blue Flag 2019: Air battles over Ovda

Exercise Report: Blue Flag 2019

Riccardo Niccoli reports from Ovda, where the latest Blue Flag exercise involved around 1,000 personnel and 70 aircraft – including, for the first time, F-35s from both Israel and Italy. 

Operated by the IAF’s Ramon-based 201 ‘The One’ Squadron, F-16I Sufa 808 launches from Ovda. The Sufa (Storm), which entered service in 2004, is stationed at Israel’s southern air bases, Hatzerim and Ramon, and specialises in long-range strikes. Dr Andreas Zeitler

Although only established in 2013, the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF’s) biennial Blue Flag is recognised as one of the most important international events of its kind – for three crucial reasons: first, the IAF boasts impressive operational capabilities and exposes its units to realistic exercises as part of an aggressive training philosophy. Second, it’s staged in an area perfect for air operations – the Negev desert is not only almost uninhabited, but it’s possible to fly at all altitudes and speeds. It also includes well-equipped ranges.

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