The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has conducted its first international unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) exercise with military pilots from five other countries.
Dubbed “Blue Guardian,” the drill kicked off on July 13 and culminated on Thursday.
Pilots from Israel, Germany, Italy, France, the US, and the UK showcased the capabilities of Hermes-450 drones with 20 representatives from other nations in attendance.
Participating teams simulated scenarios such as ground troop support, reconnaissance, and intelligence collections missions, and cooperation with various forces in the air.
“This is the first time that we are meeting with drone operators from around the world, conducting missions together, complicated missions of assisting ground troops, of locating and striking enemies, of joint operations with manned and remotely controlled aircraft,” IAF Commander Brig. Gen. Yoav Amiram told The Times of Israel.
"Blue Guardian", the first-ever international RPA exercise led by the IAF, has come to a close.
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) July 22, 2021
Israel sent a total of nine teams to participate in the drill. Among the teams were operators from the 161st Black Snake Squadron, the 200th Squadron, and the 210 White Eagle Squadron.
For IAF Chief Amikam Norkin, the exercise offers a platform for mutual study and growth, playing an important role in establishing the air force internationally.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commended the service for hosting an international event focusing on UAVs. It said the activity was strategically important because the country was able to team up with foreign drone operators.
The international drone exercise was conducted following the May conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Amiram said the country relied extensively on the air force’s drone expertise during the conflict.
“The UAV array conducted over 6,000 flight hours during Operation Guardian of the Walls, maintained operational continuity with many aircraft over the Strip, and basically allowed aerial forces of the air force and the entire IDF to operate in a complicated, populated battlefield in which we need to find the enemy and minimize collateral damage,” Amiram remarked.