Gunfight in the Israeli Desert

Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath, England, tangled with allied aircraft in the Israeli Air Force’s first-ever Blue Flag air-combat exercise at Uvda Air Base in the Negev Desert late last month. It was the largest multinational aerial warfare exercise hosted by the Israeli Air Force to date and included participants from the US, Greece, and Italy, according to a Dec. 3 Lakenheath release. Allied aircraft had a week’s work-up at Uvda, before taking aggressors on in a full-scale combat scenario. “The Israelis provided an excellent training environment . . . good airspace, surface threat replicators, and challenging scenarios,” said 492nd Fighter Squadron Commander Lt. Col. John Orchard. “Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood,” added US Ambassador Dan Shapiro. “We have great allies here, all training together and reinforcing a partnership that gets stronger with each passing year,” he noted. More than 170 airmen from Lakenheath and Ramstein AB, Germany, participated in the exercise conducted Nov. 24-28.