The Israeli air force (IAF) conducted its fifth Blue Flag drill this month, with for the first time the participation of squadrons and fighter pilots from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Greece, France and India. In another first, the chief of the Emirate air force, Vice Marshal Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed al-Alawi, arrived in Israel to observe the exercise, joining the heads of air force commanders from 10 other countries. Alawi was received by his Israeli counterpart, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, at the Palmachim air force base in central Israel, where they reviewed an honor guard.
While senior officers from Arab countries have visited Israel in the past, their visits were always clandestine. This time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued photos showing the Emirati guest reviewing the honor guard alongside Norkin, who then pinned the exercise ribbon on the lapel of his colleague. The visuals were aired on Israeli media, but their target audience was 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) to the east, in Tehran.