Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Anthony Graulus - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2016
    
Frisian Flag exercices areas (left) and the same added on Google earth picture (right)
(© Defensie.nl)

This well-known international exercise took place as usual at Leeuwarden air base between April 11th and April 22nd. This year again, various NATO countries took part to the event like Belgium, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Finland, Poland, Norway, United States and of course the Netherlands. Frisian Flag missions are held in the northern area of the Netherlands above the North Sea. The German and Danish airspaces are also involved in this very large exercise.
The main goal of these two weeks flying activities is mostly the collaboration between the crews of all different nationalities to have a common view on conflictual situations and work towards the same procedures and language. This is the only key for an efficient coalition in conflict areas, the last years events are the witness of this. Remember all the conflict area like ex-Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or, more recently and still current, the conflict in Syria with the terrorism nest and ISIS actions in the background.
This year Frisian Flag was also linked to the NATO exercise Ramstein Guard-5. The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is planned to train the NATO designed regional elements of NATO's Integrated Air Defense Systems conducted through the CAOC's while also including some national systems and assets. Ramstein Guard-5 was designed to train AC Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of Electronic Warfare tactics and technologies in a controlled environment.
During the two weeks of Frisian Flag exercise, different and quite difficult missions were flown under the supervision of the 322 Tactess and under the leading of the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC). The missions were also conducted by the German and Netherlands forward air controllers with the support of a NATO Boeing E-3A based at Geilenkirchen.
In combination, like it was in 2015, an international air refueling exercise was held and the participating tankers were based at Eindhoven (KC-10, C-135F and KC-767) or departed directly from Köln (A310MRT).
The North Sea exercise area was dived in 4 parts and called TGB's taking the civilian areas like Schiphol or Heathrow flying zone into account.
Since 2015 the exercise hosted special guests and this year two units of the Air National Guards deployed again at Leeuwarden with their F-15C/D Eagles. This is also the opportunity to give you a little historical overview of these two unusual units in the European skies.

 
      
TGB Bravo (left) and TGB Echo (right)   (© Defensie.nl)
  
TGB Charly (left) and TGB Delta (right)   (© Defensie.nl)
Participating aircraft
Some Squadrons edited special patches for this occasion: 322 Squadron (KLU) - JG31 "Boelke" (GAF) - 349 (F) Squadron (BAF)
HävLLv 31 (FAF) - JG31 "Boelke" (GAF) - 322 Squadron (KLU)
Belgium Lockheed Martin F-16AM
FA69 / FA87 / FA95 / FA102 / FA103 / FA110 / FA116 / FA124

Finland Mc Donnell Douglas / Boeing F-18C
HN-401 / HN-409 / HN-418 / HN-434 / HN-437 / HN-438

France Dassault Mirage 2000D
3-JP (611) / 3-XG (625) / 3-XD (630) / 3-JM (657) / 3-IV (683)

Germany Eurofighter EF2000
30+45 / 30+58 / 30+72 / 30+76 / 30+78 / 30+82 / 30+83 / 30+87 / 31+07 / 31+12

Netherland Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM
J-008 / J-013 / J-014 / J-015 / J-055 / J-065 / J-201 / J-509 / J-512 / J-513 / J-616 / J-644 / J-646 / J-871

Netherland Lockheed C-130H
G-988

Norway Dassault Falcon 20ECM
041
Poland Lockheed Martin F-16C-52CF
4041 / 4052 / 4055 / 4058 / 4060 / 4061

United Kingdom Panavia Tornado GR4
ZA372 (???) / ZA 459 (025) / ZA462 (027) / ZA542 (035) / ZD716 (084) / ZG779 (136)

United States Mc Donnell Douglas F-15C/D
131 FS : 83-0018 / 84-0016 / 84-0028 / 85-0118 / 85-0122
194 FS : 80-0018 / 84-0014 / 85-0129 (D model)

Cobham Dassault Falcon 20D
G-FRAL

Special Guest...
131 Fighter Squadron "Death Vipers"- 104th Fighter Wing (Massachusetts Air National Guard)

The 131st Fighter Squadron (131 FS) is a unit of the Massachusetts Air National Guard 104th Fighter Wing located at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Westfield, Massachusetts. The 131st is equipped with the F-15C/D Eagle.
The squadron was first established in August 1942 at Bellows Field, Hawaii Territory as the 333rd Fighter Squadron. It was initially part of the air defense of Hawaii, equipped with P-39 Airacobras. It also served as a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) and flew reconnaissance patrols over Hawaii until late 1943.
After the wartime, 333rd Fighter Squadron was re-designated the 131st Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the Massachusetts Air National Guard, on May 24th 1946. It was organized at Barnes Municipal Airport, Westfield, Massachusetts, and was extended federal recognition on February 24th 1947. The squadron was equipped with P-47D Thunderbolts and was assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard 102nd Fighter Group.
The mission of the 131st Fighter Squadron was the air defense of Massachusetts. With the surprise invasion of South Korea on June 25th 1950, and the regular military's lack of readiness, most of the Air National Guard was federalized placed on active duty. The 131st was retained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to maintain the air defense mission. In 1951, the F-47s were retired to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the 131st was re-equipped with the F-51H Mustang Very Long Range fighter. With its air defense mission, the 131st was re-designated as 131st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
After the Korean War, the Massachusetts Air Guard began to modernize and expand. On May 1st 1956 the 102nd wing was re-designated as the 102nd Air Defense Wing and the Guard units at Barnes were authorized to expand to a group level, and the 104th Fighter Group (Air Defense) was established, with the 131st becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 104th Material Squadron, 104th Air Base Squadron, and the 104th USAF Infirmary. The 104th, along with the 102nd Fighter Group (Air Defense) at Logan Airport, Boston began attending annual training at Otis Air Force Base.
The squadron's air defense mission ended on November 10th 1958 when the Massachusetts Air Guard and its units were reassigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC) and converted to F-86H Sabre fighter-bombers. During the 1950s and early 1960s, better training and equipment, and closer relations with the Air Force improved the readiness of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
During the summer of 1961, as the 1961 Berlin Crisis unfolded, the 131st Tactical Fighter Squadron was notified on August 16th of its pending federalization and call to active duty. On October 1st the 131st was assigned to the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing, which was federalized and placed on active duty at Otis Air Force Base.
The mission of the 102nd wing was to reinforce the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and deploy units to Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base, France. In France, the units were to provide close air support and air interdiction to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ground forces. This involved keeping its aircraft on 24/7 alert. Between October 28th and 30th, the wing elements departed Otis AFB for Phalsbourg and deployed 82 F-86H Sabres. In addition 2 C-47 Skytrain and 6 T-33A Shooting Star aircraft were assigned to the wing for support and training purposes.
Starting on December 5th, the 131st began deploying to Wheelus Air Base Libya for gunnery training. During its time in Europe, the squadron participated in several USAF and NATO exercises, including a deployment to Leck Air Base, West Germany near the Danish border. At Leck, ground and support crews from both countries exchanged duties, learning how to perform aircraft maintenance and operational support tasks.
After the Berlin Crisis, the readiness status of the 104th Tactical Fighter Group improved under the "gaining command concept", whereby the regular Air Force Tactical Air Command was responsible for overseeing the training of the group. Operational readiness inspections also honed the edges of the wing.
In 1964, the 131st switched from F-86H Sabres to the F-84F Thunderstreak. Why exactly this equipment change was made cannot be determined. The F-86H was a viable aircraft in the ANG's inventory, with the Sabres from both the 101st and 131st Tactical Fighter Squadrons being sent to the New Jersey ANG, and the 119th and 141st Tactical Fighter Squadrons sending their F-84Fs to the Massachusetts squadrons. The 131st flew the Thunderstreaks throughout the 1960s, and although the squadron was not activated during the Vietnam War, several of its pilots volunteered for combat duty in Southeast Asia. In 1971, the 104th began re-equipping with the F-100D Super Sabre; the Air Guard was always one generation of fighter aircraft behind the Air Force during this time.
The 104th remained as a tactical fighter unit flying the F-100 until July 1979 when the F-100s were retired and the unit was re-equipped with new A-10 Thunderbolt IIs as part of the "Total Force" concept which equipped ANG units with front-line USAF aircraft. This marked the first time the 131st had received new aircraft.
In 1990 the 131st was programmed to receive the specialized Block 10 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon, also referred to as the F/A-16 due to its close air support configuration. The 1990 Gulf Crisis, however, delayed this transition. During Operation Desert Storm, the F/A-16 was battle tested and it was discovered that the close air support F-16 project was a failure. Subsequently, the conversion of the squadron was cancelled in 1993, and the 131st remained an A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support squadron.
In March 1992, the unit was re designated as the 131st Fighter Squadron. In June, Tactical Air Command was inactivated as and was replaced by Air Combat Command (ACC). In 1995, the 104th adopted the Air Force Objective Organization plan and the 104th Fighter Group became a Wing, and the 131st was assigned to the new 104th Operations Group.
From August to October 1995, some 400 Airmen of the 104th Fighter Wing deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy as part of the NATO mission to repel Serbian forces in Bosnia. This was the first time that the 131st Fighter Squadron flew combat sorties since World Wat II. Four years later, in 1999, elements of the 104th mobilized and flew sorties over the skies of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. As part of an Air Guard A-10 group, the 131st attacked Serb forces in Kosovo.
In mid-1996, the Air Force, in response to budget cuts, and changing world situations, began experimenting with Air Expeditionary organizations. The Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) concept was developed that would mix Active-Duty, Reserve and Air National Guard elements into a combined force, instead of entire permanent units deploying as in the 1991 Gulf War, Expeditionary units are composed of "aviation packages" from several wings, including active-duty Air Force, the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard, would be married together to carry out the assigned deployment rotation.
As a result of the Global War on Terrorism, in 2003, the 131st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flew hundreds of combat missions with the A-10 in support of U.S. Army and Marine operations in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). During March and April 2003, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 131st Fighter Squadron A-10s supported the U.S. Army by flying combat missions that interdicted enemy forces.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, Departement of Defense recommended that the 131st send its A-10s to the Maryland Air National Guard 104th Fighter Squadron at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Maryland. In return, the 131st received the F-15C/D Eagles of the 102nd Fighter Wing at Otis AFB, which was to convert into non-flying Intelligence Wing. The realignment marked the end for the 131st's nearly 30-year mission of flying close-air support missions with the A-10. The 131st took over the homeland security mission of the 102nd. In 2007, the A-10s began flying to Maryland and the F-15s began arriving from Otis AFB. By the end of 2007, eighteen F-15C and a trainer F-15D had arrived at Barnes airfield.

Aircraft
Bell P-39 Airacobra, 1942-1944
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, 1944-1945
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, 1944-1945
Republic F-47D Thunderbolt, 1947-1951
North American F-51D Mustang, 1951-1954
Lockheed F-94A Starfire, 1954-1957
North American F-86H Sabre, 1957-1965
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, 1965-1971
North American F-100D Super Sabre, 1971-1979
Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II, 1979-2007
Mc Donnell Douglas F-15C / D Eagle, 2007-present

Massachusetts Air National Guard deployments
1961 Berlin Crisis federalization.
1961 - 1962 Stationed at Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base, France, October 1st 1961 - August 20th 1962 Operation Restore Hope.
1982 Yenisehir Airport, Turkey, Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force.
1995 Aviano Air Base, Italy, Operation Southern Watch (AEF).
2000 Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, Operation Iraqi Freedom (AEF).
2003 Balad Air Base, Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom (AEF).
2012 Undisclosed Location, Southwest Asia.
2016 Leeuwarden, Netherland, April Frisian Flag participation.

(© Serge Van Heertum)
194 Fighter Squadron "Griffins" - 144th Fighter Wing (California Air National Guard)

The 194th Fighter Squadron (194 FS) is a unit of the California Air National Guard's 144th Fighter Wing (144 FW) based at Fresno Air National Guard Base, California. The 194th is equipped with the F-15C/D Eagle and like its parent wing, is operationally-gained within the active U.S. Air Force by the Air Combat Command (ACC).
The squadron was activated in October 1943 as 409th Fighter Squadron based at Hamilton Field, California. During World War II, the squadron was an Operational Training Unit (OTU), equipped with second-line P-39 Airacobras and P-40 Warhawks. Its mission was to train newly graduated pilots from Training Command in combat tactics and maneuvers before being assigned to their permanent combat unit. Initially assigned to IV Fighter Command, and then transferred to III Fighter Command in 1944, the unit was re-equipped with P-51D Mustangs. It took part in air-ground maneuvers and demonstrations, participating in the Louisiana Maneuvers in the summer of 1944 and in similar activities in the US until after V-Day. The squadron was inactivated in November 1945.
During the wartime, 409th Fighter Squadron was re-activated and re-designated as the 194th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the California Air National Guard, on May 24th 1946. It was organized at Naval Air Station Alameda, California, and was extended federal recognition on June 25th 1948 by the National Guard Bureau. The 194th Fighter Squadron was bestowed to the history, honors, and colors of the 409th Fighter Squadron. The squadron was equipped with F-51D Mustangs and was assigned to the California ANG 144th Fighter Group. During its early years with the F-51D, the unit earned prominence as one of the Air Force's most respected aerial gunnery competitors.
With the surprise invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950, and the regular military's complete lack of readiness, most of the Air National Guard was federalized placed on active duty. The F-51Ds were exchanged for F-51H Mustangs in 1951, as the "D" model of the Mustang was needed for close air support missions in Korea. The F-51H was a Very Long Range version of the Mustang, which was developed to escort B-29 Superfortress bombers to Japan, but not considered rugged enough to be used in Korea. During its years with the P-51H, the unit earned prominence as one of the Air Force's most respected aerial gunnery competitors. In June 1953, while still flying the Mustang, the unit was qualified for the first all-jet, worldwide gunnery meet.
With the increased availability of jet aircraft after the Korean War, the squadron's aircraft were upgraded from the piston-engine, propeller driven F-51H to its first jet aircraft, the F-86A Sabre Day Interceptor in 1954. At the same time, the 194th relocated to Fresno Yosemite International Airport, followed by the wing in 1957. On July 7th 1955, the 144th was re-designated as the 194th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, a designation kept by the squadron for the next 37 years. With the F-86A, the 144th began standing dusk-to-dawn alerts, joining its Air Defense Command active-duty counterparts. The 194th continued to fly the F-86A until March 31st 1958. On April 1st 1958, the transition was made to the F-86L Sabre Interceptor, which was designed from the onset as an interceptor, and was able to be used in all weather. In addition, the F-86L could be controlled and directed by the SAGE computer-controlled Ground Control Interceptor (Radar) sites which would vector the aircraft to the unidentified target for interception.
On April 1st 1958, the transition was made to the F-86L, which was flown until June 30th 1964. On July 1st 1964, the 144th began flying the F-102 Delta Dagger and continued flying this aircraft until July 24th 1974. On July 25th 1974, the 144th brought the F-106 Delta Dart into service, and continued to fly this aircraft until December 31st 1983. On October 1st 1978 Aerospace Defense Command was inactivated, its units being reassigned to Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC). The aging F-106s was replaced on January 1st 1984 with F-4D Phantom IIs, being used in the air defense interceptor missions.
The squadron started receiving their first F-16A Fighting Falcons on October 1st 1989. These were of the block 15 type, replacing the F-4D in the air defense and attack roles. The block 15 airframes weren't exactly suited to the dedicated air defense mission the squadron was tasked to. This was fixed with the Air Defense Fighter (ADF) upgrade these aircraft received during 1990.
Effective March 16th 1992, the 144th Fighter Interceptor Wing was re-designated as the 144th Fighter Wing (144th FW), with all related Fighter Interceptor Groups and Squadrons becoming Fighter Groups and Fighter Squadrons. On June 1st 1992, the 144th FW was reassigned to Air Combat Command.
During this time the 194th FS also had an alert detachment at George AFB. This base was closed in 1992 due to the overall downsizing after the Cold War and the alert detachment moved to March Air Force Base. In 1995 the squadron was converted to the F-16C Fighting Falcon block 25 aircraft.
After having flown for 11 years with the block 25 airframes, a number of those came to the end of their operational lifespan. It was therefore decided that the airframes of the 194th FS were to be replaced with F-16C Block 32 aircraft. The conversion to these block 32 models started in December 2006 and was gradually completed by the end of 2007.
The first F-15C Eagle arrived on June 18th 2013. The last F-16 Fighting Falcon flew to its new home in Tucson, Arizona on November 7th 2013.

Aircraft
Bell P-39 Airacobra, 1943-1944
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, 1944-1945
North American P-51 Mustang, 1945
North American F-51 Mustang, 1948-1954
North American F-86A Sabre, 1954-1958
North American F-86L Sabre, 1958-1964
Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, 1965-1974
Convair F-106 Delta Dart, 1974-1983
Mc Donnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II, 1983-1989
Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon, 1989-1995
Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon, 1995 - 2013
Mc Donnell Douglas F-15C/D Eagle, 2013-present

(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
Runway cleaning (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
Attention aircraft...we wait for them! (© Serge Van Heertum) Preparing the plane for the first wave (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
A clear muti national exercise (© Serge Van Heertum) Full AB (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) Colorfull Belgian (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)

(© Serge Van Heertum)

(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Anthony Graulus) Morning wave back home (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Anthony Graulus) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum) Polish support PZL M28B Bryza (© Serge Van Heertum)
Belgian visitor aircraft (© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
Afternoon wave (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
Slow mover at take off (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
Aborted mission for Belgian F-16AM (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
Second mission of the day is over, back home (© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
(© 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) (© Serge Van Heertum)
Intensive jet activities can give very special pictures...attention very hot!
(© 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)
(© 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)
SBAP would like to thanks the Ministerie van Defensie NL, The Koninklijke Luchtmacht and the Leeuwarden air base authorities
for the opportunities making this report possible.

 

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