Israel’s largest-ever multinational air defense drill is a demonstration that more countries are willing to engage with it publicly as strategic allies
As symbols of raw military power and historical memories go, few things could have beaten the sight of a Eurofighter jet, carrying the cross of the German Luftwaffe lining up beside an F-15 with the Israeli Air-Force’s blue Star of David, before both of them screamed into the sky over the Negev Desert for an air-combat exercise.
The first-ever visit of German warplanes to Israel was not the only historic sight on display this week at the Israel Air Force’s Uvda airbase.
Blue Flag 2017, the largest international military exercise ever to take place in Israel also saw the return of French fighter jets to Israeli skies, in the shape of Mirage 2000Ds. The last time they were here was in 1956, when, as part of the secret plans leading to the Suez campaign, Israel cooperated with France and Britain against Nasser’s Egypt, and French squadrons deployed to Israeli airbases. Another historical first was the arrival of an Indian C-130J transport aircraft, along with a squadron of “Garud” special-force operators, here for the first joint Israeli-Indian exercise.