Israeli Air Force hosts multinational exercise

Added On November 26, 2013

An international military exercise went into high gear on Monday as warplanes from four nations continually thundered out of the Ovda Air Base in southern Israel.
Fighter pilots and ground crews from the United States, Italy and Greece are participating in Blue Flag, the first multinational drill hosted by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) since it began cross-training with foreign counterparts 15 years ago.
The two-week exercise, in which pilots have been simulating aerial dogfights, defensive maneuvers and low-altitude bombing runs, comes amid high tensions over Iran's nuclear program. But senior diplomats who attended the event said it was not related to any recent developments.
In a first-step deal reached Sunday with the P5+1, Iran has agreed to a six-month halt of its nuclear program while talks will continue to seal a final agreement and to allow international observers to monitor Iran's nuclear sites.
"It's not tied to any specific events. We live in a tough world, dangerous world. Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood, and we need the best equipped and best trained forces as possible to protect our people and security. We also need allies," U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told reporters.

Blue Flag, due to end this weekend, was modeled after the U.S. Air Force's Red Flag, an extensive exercise held annually at Nellis Air Base in Nevada, where American and a bevy of NATO throttle jockeys receive what is widely considered the best, most realistic combat training in the world.