Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft landed at Nörvenich air base in Germany for the first time on August 17 for a two-week deployment which marked a major historic milestone between the two nations.
This deployment is the first time Israeli aircraft have ever taken part in an exercise in Germany. The nation deployed six Lockheed Martin F-16C/D ‘Barak’ multi-role fighters – three from the air arm’s 101st Squadron and three from the 105th – both based at Haztor in central Israel. A Gulfstream G550 ‘Nachshon Eitam’ conformal airborne early warning (CAEW) aircraft from 122 Squadron also deployed to the German base. The deployment was supported by Israeli-operated Boeing KC-707 and Lockheed KC-130H ‘Karnaf’ tanker/transports.
Lt Col A, commander of the 105th Squadron, said: “This is an opportunity to showcase our abilities and learn about NATO’s flight and training technique… We will fly in a different environment than we are used to in Israel, with different flight platforms and flight rules.”
During the two-week deployment, Israeli aircraft participated in two different exercises: Blue Wings 2020 in the first week and MAG (Multinational Air Group) Days in the second. As part of the MAGDays exercise, IAF aircraft integrated and flew with and against fighters and tanker aircraft belonging to other NATO member states, which included Hungarian Air Force Gripens.
Alongside this, the Israeli F-16s flew a number of different training missions with German EF-2000s from the Nörvenich-based Tactical Air Force Wing 31 ‘Boelcke’. This included dissimilar air combat training (DACT) and air-to-ground missions.
Lt Col Samuel Mabsa, the deputy commander of Nörvenich air base, said: “The [IAF] is on operational alert every day, while we carry out only pre-planned operational activities. We can learn a lot from the Israelis – how they prepare and especially how they understand the situation we are in. If one day we are called to fight together, we can do so without prior preparation.”
The historic visit also included two joint German-Israeli flyovers of the Dachau concentration camp and Furstenfeldbruck Airport near Munich. The former was to honour the memory of the millions murdered during the Holocaust and the latter to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Lt Col Bassa, an German Air Force officer, added: “This is the first time that [IAF] fighter jets have arrived in Germany. The exercise is unique in light of the historical aspects, but we are also looking to the future. According to the plan, we plan to participate in the Blue Flag exercise next year.” The Israeli aircraft departed Germany on August 28 after a successful two-week deployment.