“Blue Guardian” International UAV Exercise, Participating Nations Explore Cooperation and Collaboration Opportunities

By Arie Egozi

Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: As air forces around the world continue to increase the use of UAV’s, Israel is considered a country that can instruct foreign air forces of how to exploit the potential of these aerial systems.

Last week, the “Blue Guardian” international UAV exercise began, led by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) with five other participating nations. France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Italy are the five countries participating in the “Blue Guardian” UAV exercise led by the Israeli Air Force. In addition, by mid-week representatives from 11 additional countries arrived at Palmachim AFB to learn about the Israeli experience with UAV’s.

“The number of participating countries in the current exercise is relatively limited compared to the number of nations that have close relations with the IAF”, explained Capt. Y, a UAV operator from the 166th (“Fire Birds”) Squadron, which is leading the exercise. “The participating forces all have their own advanced UAV squadrons. However, it was important for us to hold the exercise with other close partners from around the world to create an opportunity for possible cooperation in the field. The field of remotely piloted aircraft is developing at a rapid pace worldwide and holding an international exercise emphasizes that significance and paves the way for future collaboration and advancement”. He told the IAF magazine.

Capt. A, a representative from the United States Air Force, spoke about the differences in the platform they operate in the US compared to the Israeli “Zik” (Hermes 450), which each team has flown during the exercise. “There are advantages and disadvantages to each platform and the differences shape each country’s operational doctrine. “The United States Air Force can learn a lot from the IAF”, shared Capt. A. “There’s a very high likelihood that we’re going to interact together in the sky at some point somewhere in the world, so I think having the baseline knowledge of how you operate your aircraft compared to how we do in the USAF is very valuable. On a personal level, it’s nice getting to know everybody, hearing their backgrounds, and finding similarities”.

Some 80 % of the total flight hours performed by the IAF are by UAV’s of all types, from medium sized like the Hermes 450 to the biggest one the Heron TP.