Blue Flag exercise has Israel’s enemies seeing red

Israel flexed its army and political muscle final month, internet hosting its largest and most superior air power exercise ever. The Blue Flag 2021 exercise included dozens of fighter plane from no less than eight major countries and a landmark visit from the chief of the United Arab Emirates Air Force.

The exercise supplied flight crews a chance to share greatest practices, enhance interoperability, and refine the combination of fourth- and fifth-generation fighter plane operations. Much to the chagrin of those that search to delegitimize, isolate and assault Israel, the exercise additionally demonstrated rising worldwide respect for Israel as a regional chief and army energy with deep operational expertise.

France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States all despatched fighter plane and personnel to Israel to take part in Blue Flag 2021. Participating plane included Israeli F-35Is, F-15Ds and F-16Cs; French Rafales; U.Okay. Typhoons; Italian F-35s and G550 early warning plane; German Typhoons; Greek F-16s; and Indian Mirage 2000s. The United States had wished to ship F-35A plane along with the F-16C plane that participated, however couldn’t as a consequence of scheduling challenges.

In whole, an estimated 1,500 service members participated. Flight crews honed their air-to-air and air-to-ground expertise, and practiced suppressing enemy air defenses, going up in opposition to Israeli F-16Cs from the a hundred and fifteenth Aggressor Squadron, which modeled the capabilities and ways of potential adversaries. These aggressor plane had been augmented by unmanned aerial programs and helicopters in addition to a Patriot battery simulating an enemy surface-to-air missile risk.

Blue Flag 2021 marked numerous historic firsts. The exercise featured the primary French Rafale fighter squadron in Israel, the primary Indian Mirage fighter squadron in Israel and the primary British fighter squadron in Israel because the nation was established in 1948.

The participation of France, the United Kingdom and India in Blue Flag 2021 suggests every authorities noticed sensible operational advantages from sending crews and plane to the Israeli exercise, and was pleased to sign elevated diplomatic assist for the state of Israel.

This rising worldwide recognition of Jerusalem’s function as a supply of regional management and stability should be disappointing for the Islamic Republic of Iran and its terrorist proxies, who search to assault and even destroy the state of Israel. It should even be fairly irritating for these elsewhere who search to delegitimize and isolate Jerusalem.

Despite the efforts of Israel’s adversaries, Jerusalem now fields its most succesful army ever and is extra diplomatically built-in within the area than it has been since Israel’s founding. Recognizing that truth, the Pentagon moved Israel this 12 months from U.S. European Command’s space of accountability to that of U.S. Central Command, which incorporates the Middle East.

Israel’s rising regional integration was demonstrated by the Blue Flag 2021 exercise’s most necessary first: the go to by UAE Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed al-Alawi.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates, together with Bahrain, signed the Abraham Accords in 2020, codifying regular relations and catalyzing rising cooperation in numerous financial, scientific and social fields. Israel-UAE cooperation more and more additionally contains the safety sector.

A serious cause for this rising cooperation is the truth that Iran continues to export terrorism that targets Israelis, Americans and Arabs alike, whereas inching towards a nuclear weapon functionality that may endanger all of them. This is incentivizing an more and more unified and succesful American, Israeli and Arab army coalition.

That dynamic was on full show on Oct. 30 in a separate improvement when plane from Israel, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (at totally different instances) accompanied a U.S. B-1B strategic bomber in its flight across the Arabian Peninsula. Riyadh’s willingness to participate for a second time this 12 months in a multilateral patrol mission involving Israel is value noting.

The United States, Israel and their Arab companions, nonetheless, shouldn’t be glad with this progress. They ought to search for extra alternatives to deepen mutually useful safety cooperation. This cooperation strengthens the readiness of every army, improves their skill to function collectively and sends a optimistic deterrent message to Tehran.

The excellent news is that the respective militaries are already transferring that route. The Blue Flag exercise represents a “stepping-stone toward regional and international cooperation,” Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said last month. There are a number of instant alternatives the United States and our Middle Eastern companions mustn’t miss.

Terrorist threats to transport and offshore power infrastructure within the Middle East are rising. Israeli and Emirati ships have been attacked. Meanwhile, with Iran’s assist, Hezbollah has armed itself with a wide range of weapons designed to assault maritime targets, and Hamas tried to focus on gas installations off the Israeli coast in the course of the Gaza battle in May.

To strengthen maritime capabilities and deterrence, Israel ought to invite the United Arab Emirates (and Egypt) to take part within the subsequent Noble Dina exercise. This Israeli-hosted exercise focuses on maritime situational consciousness, counterterrorism and port protection (amongst different expertise), all of which might enhance Israeli and Emirati safety.

In the air area, Israel ought to invite the United Arab Emirates to ship plane and fighter crews to the subsequent Blue Flag exercise in two years. For its half, Abu Dhabi ought to invite Israel to take part within the subsequent UAE-hosted Desert Flag exercise.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates already take part within the Greek-hosted Iniochos exercise, final performed in April. To prolong Arab-Israeli safety cooperation additional, Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi ought to work with Athens to ask Egypt and Jordan to affix the subsequent Iniochos exercise as full contributors (not merely as observers).

The Pentagon must also encourage each Israel and the United Arab Emirates to ship sturdy contingents to the subsequent Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

In the land warfare area, Abu Dhabi ought to invite the Israel Defense Forces to take part within the subsequent UAE-U.S. Iron Union exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates. There is sweet cause to take action: As Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, “Iran plans to arm its proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with hundreds, and then thousands of these deadly drones [Shahed-136s].”

If the IDF had been to attend the Iron Union exercise, Emirati, American and Israeli forces may work collectively, for instance, to strengthen and rehearse the protection of bases and floor maneuver forces in opposition to swarms of enemy drones. Developing, fielding and honing improved defenses in opposition to drones is a high precedence for U.S. Central Command, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and others are proper to have fun the success of the Blue Flag 2021 exercise. Given the rising threats, nonetheless, they need to not spend an excessive amount of time congratulating themselves and can be smart to get to work now on pressing subsequent steps.

Bradley Bowman is the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Retired Brig. Gen. Jacob Nagel is a senior fellow at FDD. He beforehand served as head of Israel’s National Security Council and as performing nationwide safety adviser. Ryan Brobst is a analysis analyst on the heart.

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