From 17 to 28 August 2020, a large detachment of the IAF was deployed to the Nörvenich base in Western Germany.
The exercise named Blue Wings 2020 welcomed for the first time a delegation from Israel. A total of 6 F-16 C/D Barak F-16s from Sqn 101 and 105 as well as two B707 Re’em and two Gulfstream G550 Nachshon-Eitan made up the delegation. KC-130Hs and C-130Js carried out support flights between the two countries. Two missions were scheduled every day. Security measures were well present around the German base.
Various exercises and scenarios were on the agenda in the NATO environment. It was a good opportunity for the IAF to “confront” itself with different techniques, with modern aircraft simulating a wide variety of threats in the European environment. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, this was the only deployment of Israeli aircraft for this year 2020. As we are reminded by Lt. Col. A. commander of the 105th Sqn flying F-16C/D Barak: This is an opportunity to showcase our abilities and learn about NATO’ flight and technical training. We flew in a different environment than we are used to in Israel, with different flight platforms and flight rules. From a strategic standpoint, we are strengthening our ability to cooperate with other nations and air forces”. (IAF sources).
On 18 August, the first official day of the exercise, an overflight was carried out with a formation of aircraft led by a G550 escorted by F-16s and Eurofighters over the Dachau concentration camp. The flight also passed through Fürstenfeldbruck airport in memory of the Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Olympics. Among the members of the Israeli delegation were grandchildren of Jews who passed through the death camps during the Second World War. Emotion and remembrance was the meeting point between these two air forces, with also a message for the future.
We can see that the IAF has been moving towards the NATO training and exercise areas for several years now. We remember their strong presence during the Iniochos exercises in Greece, or the deployment of F-15s in Great Britain last year.