Blue Flag exercise follows hot on heels of Iran deal

In the Middle East defence issues are always attached to some relevant events.

After an agreement with Iran about its nuclear programme was signed, in spite of a loud Israeli protest, air forces of four nations began a complex exercise over southern Israel.

Code-named Blue Flag, the exercise brought together 60 fighter and auxiliary aircraft.

Seven combat squadrons from the Israeli air force (IAF) and one squadron each from the air forces of the US, Greece and Italy were involved. The Polish air force was scheduled to take part but withdrew for budgetary reasons.

The presence of America’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, at the air base was very symbolic. It was even more so, one day after the US and European countries signed the agreement with Iran.

The agreement, according to Israeli sources, does not stop the Iranian race towards a nuclear bomb, so leaves the military option on the table, especially one in Israel.

“We are facing the same threats in the Middle East, and it’s important that we have the capability of acting together, if need be. Such exercises give our pilots and air force personnel the necessary experience, since there could be circumstances under which they operate together,” ambassador Shapiro said.

The exercise, which will continue for the next two days, will be followed by an analysis by all the participants. Observers from 20 countries arrived on Monday to witness the exercises, including some from Cyprus and Bulgaria.

The IAF plans to hold such multinational exercises every two years and invite more air forces to participate.

“Our enemies are becoming the enemies of many other countries and this is changing the situation,” an Israeli source said.

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