Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys © sbap 2014

From March 31st until April 11th, 2014, more than 60 aircraft from eight different European countries took part in one of the most important NATO exercise in northern Europe: Frisian Flag 2014. Throughout the years Frisian Flag became a major NATO exercise, a must on the European combat pilot training scene…

The exercise was planned to train for complex, multinational operations, as it was during the campaign over Libya, or still is in Afghanistan. Although NATO members have a long tradition of training with each other, Frisian Flag is one of the few initiatives in Europe that simulates large-scale wartime missions and conditions.

Host nation aside, Belgians, Danish, Norwegians and Portuguese with their F-16s, Spain and Germany with their Eurofighters, and the Finnish with their F-18 Hornets took part in Frisian Flag.
 

Electronic and warning support was provided by a French Air Force AWACS E-3F, a British civilian operated DA-20 EW (Electronic Warfare) and a DA-42 M-NG in an UAV role equipped with basic electronics of a RQ-1 Predator. No real UAV could be integrated in the exercise.

Together with Frisian Flag, the European Defense Agency held its first multinational air-to-air refueling (AAR) exercise called European Air-to-Air Refueling Training 2014 (EART14). A Dutch KDC-10, a German A310 MRT and an
Italian KC-767A flew dedicated air-to-air refueling missions from Eindhoven air base and were also integrated in the Frisian Flag missions. For the tanker crews, this was also the opportunity to train with Link 16 procedures, bailout procedures and follow up multiple air-to-air refueling formations. EART14 arose from the fact the European member states realized they were suffering a lack of equipment and interoperability within their fleet of a mere of 40 tankers of various models.

Complex missions were flown covering three countries (The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) to simulate real world operations like those in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya. Missions ranged from defensive (protection of ground objectives and
slow movers) to offensive missions (air interdiction and SEAD - Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses). To make things even more interesting, the Germans put up SA-6s and SA-8s (former East German material) in the war zone. Aircrews had no idea where as to maximize the training value. In turn, the Dutch placed several Smokey Sam’s and inflatable targets.
For Close Air Support missions the fighters relied on
JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller)
units from the Dutch Special Forces who had previously operated in Afghanistan. An active Link 16 network was set up for communications throughout the two-week exercise.

To ensure the two waves of aircraft for the day, crews were divided in 12 hour morning and afternoon shifts with planning alone taking up to 6 hours a day. Each wave had an amount of 44 aircraft. This pace was held up every day, for twelve consecutive days, with the missions getting more and more complex along the way.

Each day, at 09.00 AM, the first fighters lined up on Runway 27 at Leeuwarden AB for the launch of the first wave, the second one taking off around 01.00 PM.

No need to say these were two very intense weeks for the pilots and ground personnel in charge of the turnaround, the maintenance and technical troubleshooting.

#1 (Marc Arys)  -  #2 (Serge Van Heertum)


Leeuwarden, the homebase of Frisian Flag (Serge Van Heertum)
Agusta-Bell 412 in stand by for possible accident above the North Sea
(Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) Lockheed C-130H from the KLU involved in this large exercise
(Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
EART 2014 in action (Courtesy EATC Media)

Reports Menu - Homepage