The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is planning to stage Blue Plug, its largest ever multinational exercise with at least five foreign air forces from Uvda Air Base. Many pilots and combat aircraft types are expected to participate.
The exercise will include air-to-air combat and “dropping ammunition” in a low-level profile. The IAF is making arrangements for the exercise at all Israeli air bases, indicating a complex force on force air attack, counter-air, and air defense profile, according to Airforce-Technology news.
The exercise is expected to copy the US Air Force's "Red Flag,” but will differ by including unspecified "Israeli elements" based on Flight Global aviation news and other outlet reporting. The IAF’s 115 Squadron known as the "Flying Dragon" (AKA: Red Aggressor) squadron is scheduled to simulate the role of hostile Arab nations in the exercise, according to the Israeli Defense Forces and Airforce-Technology news.
Operational security has been incorporated the early planning stage. The countries set to partake in the joint exercise are not being released publically. “Lt Col Assaf,” a key military planner and public spokesperson, spoke with his helmet on while covering his face to prevent his family name’s release, according to the Times of Israel.
The Uvda Airbase is located in the Uvda valley in southern Israel. The airbase takes its name from Operation "Uvda', the conquering of the southern Negev and Eilat by the "Negev" and "Golani" brigades during the independence War. The Flying Dragon” squadron plays the role of enemy aircraft in exercises for the rest of the Air Force. The squadron flies different aircraft types and it includes teams which operate imitation enemy ground targets and arrange for infantry soldiers to play the role of terrorists in training scenarios. Additionally, the Uvda Airbase defends the south of the country throughout the year. Likewise, the base hosts squadrons training in the Negev Desert. It also holds the advanced training center, which trains aircrew in varied exercises, teaches them the IAF's combat doctrine and how to build operational orders, according to the IAF.
In 2012, the IAF's combat squadrons participated in joint exercises in Middle East and Balkan Peninsula with countries that include: Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, and Greece. Analysts believe that Blue Plug is another series of IAF training in preparation for combat operations against Syria and Iran.