2020: Exercise Blue Wings 2020 at Nörvenich Air Base

From 17 to 28 August exercise Blue Wings 2020 took place at Nörvenich Air Base in the west of Germany. Nörvenich is home of the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31 “Boelcke” (TLG31) with their EF2000 Typhoons. Next to these Typhoons the Israeli Air Force participated with three F-16C-40-CF Barak from 101 “The First Fighter” squadron and three F-16D-40-CF Barak from 105 “The Scorpion” Squadron which are based at Hatzor. Also one special-missions Gulfstream 550 Nachshon Aitam from 122 squadron based at Nevatim participated. In the second week also two KC-707s Re’em from 120 squadron based at Nevatim flew missions from Nörvenich. Many flights for personnel and equipment were conducted by KC-130Hs Kamaf from 131 squadron and C-130J-30s Shimshon from 103 squadron which both are based at Nevatim. Next to these air- craft the Israeli brought 180 airmen.

The exercise was oficially launched on 18 August with a mixed formation flyby over two places of historic significance in the German-Israeli relationship: the former concen- tration camp Dachau and former airbase Fürstenfeldbruck. In the years 1933 until 1945 around 206.000 people from 30 different  countries  were  detained  in  concentration  camp Dachau. At least 41.500 people were killed and among them were many Jews. Fürstenfeldbruck is known from the more recent history: On the early morning of 5 September during the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich a group of Palestin- ian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village apartment of the Israeli athletes, killing two and taking nine others hostage. The terrorists were part of a group known as Black Septem- ber. In return for the release of the hostages they demanded that Israel released over 230 Arab prisoners (being held in Israeli jails) and two German terrorists. In an ensuing shoot out at Fürstenfeldbruck the nine Israeli hostages were killed along with ive terrorists and one West German policeman. This event is known as the Munich Massacre.

Commemorative flv bv and ceremonv

The formation consisted of two German Typhoons, two Israeli F-16s and one Israeli Gulfstream 550. On board the Gulfstream were the Commanding Oficers of the German and Israeli Air Forces. The Israeli crews also took symbolic items on board, like poetry books from a Dachau survivor who is the grandfather of the deputy commander of 109 Squadron, a ring from a holocaust survivor who was the commander of 105 Squadron, but was killed in battle and flags of the state of Israel, the Israeli Air Force and the Olympics committee. General Major Norkin of the Israeli Air Force received those flags from the relatives of the killed athletes prior to his visit to Germany. After this overflight there was a special ceremony at Dachau joined by the German Minister of Defence, Israeli ambassador to Germany and both commanding oficers of the German and Israeli Air Force. General Major Norkin of the Israeli Air Force said: “Standing here I raise my hand and look towards the future. This future encompassed Germany. We are training and learning, friend from friend, force from force and mili- tary from military. Even amid a global pandemic we chose to carry out this joint training exercise. This cooperation is powerful ing these challenging days.”

Exercise

Due to the global pandemic this was the only exercise for the Israeli Air Force outside Israel during 2020. The first week of the exercise was used for training and familiarisation flights. The second week was for the German led exercise ultina- tional Air Group Days (MAGDays). During the MAGDays mis- sions where flown above the North Sea and also an Israeli Boeing 0 took part in these missions. At Schleswig-Jagel there were four Hungarian Air Force Grippens which also participated in the exercise. Next to these there were other European countries taking part but they flew from their homebases.

Preparations
On 5 August a message appeared on the Scramble message board quoting that the Israeli Air Force is participating in an exercise in Germany but it was unknown which types participated and which base was to host this exercise. A day later two Israeli C-130]-30s were underway for bringing the first equipment and personnel to Nörvenich and also the news came out that the exercise involved F-16s, Boeings and a Gulfstream. The two Hercs departed the same day and it was quiet for almost a week when an “old” KC-130H arrived on the 12th and departed a day later when a C-130J-30 arrived. Unfortunately this was one of the two that arrived on the 6th.

 

Warm welcome

Monday the 1st was the day of the arrival of the F-16s, Boeings and Gulfstreams. German Air Force Typhoons flew to the German border to welcome and escort the Israeli Air Force planes towards Nörvenich. Commanding Officer of the German Air Force Lt. General Gerhartz was flying a Typhoon and welcomed the Israeli delegation, and especially Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force General Major Amikam Norkin, in German Airspace as he flew side by side to the Gulfstream V “Nachshon Shavit” and spoke these historic words over the radio: “On behalf of the German Air Force it is

Arrivals and departures
At that time there was a flight of two German Air Force Typhoons with three Israeli Air Force F-16s and a flight of two German Air Force Typhoons with the Israeli Air Force Gulfstream V overhead the base. That afternoon six F-16s, two Boeings, one Gulfstream 550 and the Gulfstream V landed. The F-16s used callsigns Atomi 1-6 while the Boeing 707s where flying with Giant 1-3. Giant 2 refuelled the F-16s in the beginning and returned home while Giant 1 and 3 flew all the way to Nörvenich. The Israeli Air Force F-16s did not have permission to overfly Austria or Switzerland so they had to fly via France. Both Boeing 707s departed home the same day. The Gulfstream V departed home on the 19th, a day after the flypast, while the Gulfstream 550 stayed the whole exercise and departed on the 28th.

On Sunday 23 August another C-130]-30 flight came in but unfortunately this particular aircraft was also there on the 6th. On Monday the 2nd two Boeings came in including one other then the two that arrived on the 1st. The Gulfstream V came back one more time on the 25th and departed home a day later. On the 2nd another two C-130s arrived, one KC-130H and one C-130J-30, both had not visited Nörvenich earlier. While all Israeli aircraft had departed on Friday the 28th, the support flights arrived on the last day of August. These three transports, two KC-130s and one C-130J- 30 departed on the 1st of September. The same three C-130s had visited Nörvenich earlier this exercise. In total seventeen different Israeli Air Force aircraft could be seen.

This exercise was quite unique because it was the first time that the German and Israeli Air Force worked together in an exercise on German soil. Earlier, the German Air Force had been to Israel twice to take part in exercise Blue Flag. Hopefully these exercises will be repeated often in the near future.

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