Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2015

Fightertown Leeuwaarden in northern Holland is a fighter base not only renowned for its FWIT (Fighter Weapons Instructor Training) courses but also for the yearly large scale exercise Frisian Flag.
The 2015 edition took place from April 13 till 24 with missions departing from Leeuwarden onto four operational ranges including offensive as well as defensive missions.
Two findings arose immediately. The limited number of participating countries, unlike the previous years and the exceptional attendance of the US Air Force, deploying two National Guards units. Participating countries were limited to Holland, Finland, Germany, Spain, Poland and the USA. Mostly, and without a doubt the fact for Belgium, due to the missions abroad (Syria, Poland) and the actual budget cuts within most of the European Air Forces.
The most notable fact was of course the deployment to Europe, within the frame of the operation 'Atlantic Resolve', of the 125 TFW (Florida Air National Guard) and 142 TFW (Oregon National Guard). Twelve F-15C and D set up house at Leeuwarden airbase and as Lt Col Paul Reedy, commander of the 159 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, emphasized, it was a première for the units of the National Guard to come back onto the old continent after 15 years.
Besides the joint missions with the various NATO members, the two fighter units were integrated in the Frisian Flag exercise which made it far more interesting for the other participants allowing them to work with the allies from across the Atlantic. But also for the American pilots to familiarize them with the European theatre, sometimes more difficult due to the capricious weather and limited or congested airspace.

The 125th Fighter Wing (125 FW) is a unit of the Florida Air National Guard, stationed at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida. If activated to federal service with the United States Air Force, the 125 FW is gained by the Air Combat Command.

The 142nd Fighter Wing (142 FW sometimes 142d) is a unit of the Oregon Air National Guard, stationed at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. As a state militia unit, the 142nd Fighter Wing is not in the normal United States Air Force chain of command. It is under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Air National Guard unless it is federalized by order of the President of the United States. If activated to federal service, the wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Combat Command.

Now to come back to Frisian Flag it is also noteworthy that this is the first year the entire exercise was under the supervision of 322 TACTES. The various missions were flown within the airspaces of Holland, Germany and Denmark with four high, medium and low level ranges dedicated to these operations: TGB Bravo (North Sea onto Denmark), TGB Charlie (North Sea with the Schiphol area as the southern limit), TGB Delta (North Sea with Leeuwarden and onto the German border) and TGB Echo (North Sea to the north of the Delta zone).

The electronic warfare and jamming was provided by a Falcon 20 of Cobham Aviation and a Gates Learjet 36A of Skyline Aviation. NATO was in charge of the Airborne Early Warning part flying a Boeing E-3A AWACS from the German base at Geilenkirchen.
For the second consecutive year the Frisian Flag exercise was combined with the "EART2015" (European Air-to-Air Refueling Training) organized by the EATC (European Air Transport Command). The foreseen tankers were based at Eindhoven and involved four air refueling units:

Luftwaffe A310-304MRTT (10+25)
Armée de l’Air Boeing CF135R (93-CB)
Koninklijke Luchtmacht KDC-10 (T235)
Aeronautica Militare Italiana Boeing KC-767A (MM62226)

The missions were also supported by the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC); the Marine provided a ship for the offensive and defensive air-sea training sessions and a German mobile DCRC “Redhawk” as a ground support unit. This latter was in charge of the operational control of the various ranges allowing or refusing access to the “combat zone”.
The aim of the Frisian Flag exercise tends to improve and promote the cooperation between the different NATO air forces but also with those outside the North Atlantic treaty. Global geopolitical situations offer the best evidences that cooperation between the various forces are an essential asset and are certainly a guarantee to success for aerial operations as in Lybia, Afghanistan or more recently in Syria to eradicate the forces of the Islamic State.
Two weeks of intensive exercise of all kinds for the pilots and also for the ground crews, mechanics, aerial controllers and other grassroots men to ensure global peace, which is clearly not evident actually.
But let us remember this famous sentence:
Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war)

Air National Guard, 125 TFW (Florida), 142 TFW (Oregon) & 159 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in charge of the European deployment
TGB "Bravo" range TGB "Charlie" range

TGB "Delta" range

TGB "Echo" range

Participant aircraft and units
USA Florida & Oregon Air National Guard
86-0161 F-15C-41MC 159FS/125FW
80-0024 F-15C-28MC 123FS/142FW
"City of Pendleton"
85-0106 F-15C-39MC 123FS/142FW
"City of Astoria"
86-0155 F-15C-41MC 159FS/125FW
84-0031 F-15C-38MC 123FS/142FW
"City of Hood River"
86-0162 F-15C-41MC 159FS/125FW
82-0016 F-15C-33MC 123FS/142FW
"West Linn"
85-0132 F-15D-40MC 123FS/142FW
"City of Albany"
86-0151 F-15C-41MC 123FS/142FW
"City of Mc Minnville"
81-0023 F-15C-30MC 159FS/125FW
85-0096 F-15C-39MC 159FS/125FW
78-0489 F-15C-21MC 159FS/125FW
Luftwaffe (German Air Force)
30+64 EF2000 TaktLwG31
31+04 EF2000 TaktLwG31
31+10 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+75 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+65 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+97 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+57 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+53 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+94 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+80 EF2000 TaktLwG31
30+15 EF2000 TaktLwG74

Suomen Ilmavoimat (finnish Air Force)
HN-450/50 F-18C-52MC HavLLv31
HN-441/41 F-18C-52MC HavLLv31
HN-432/32 F-18C-51MC HavLLv31
HN-440/40 F-18C-52MC HavLLv31
HN-407/07 F-18C-48MC HavLLv31
HN-429/29 F-18C-51MC HavLLv31
Polish Air Force
4066 F-16C-52CF 32.BLT/ 10.Elt
4067 F-16C-52CF 32.BLT/ 10.Elt
4069 F-16C-52CF 32.BLT/ 10.Elt
4071 F-16C-52CF 32.BLT/ 10.Elt
4086 F-16D-52CF 32.BLT/ 10.Elt
4075 F-16C-52CF 32.BLT/ 10.Elt

Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force)
C.15-57/12-15 EF-18M Ala 12
C.15-60/12-18 EF-18M Ala 12
CE.15-12/12-75 EF-18BM Ala 12
C.15-62/12-20 EF-18M Ala 12
C.15-66/12-24 EF-18M Ala 12
C.15-34/12-50 EF-18M Ala 12 Special paint
Royal Netherlands Air Force
J-009 F-16AM 322Tactess
J-013 F-16AM 322Tactess
J-513 F-16AM 322Tactess
J-516 F-16AM 322Tactess
J-644 F-16AM 322Tactess
J-136 F-16AM 312sqn
J-616 F-16AM 312sqn
J-508 F-16AM 312sqn
J-642 F-16AM 312sqn
J-197 F-16AM 312sqn
J-062 F-16AM 312sqn
J-016 F-16AM 312sqn
J-630 F-16AM 312sqn
Rendez-vous next year for the 2016 edition...

Reports Menu - Homepage