Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Anthony Graulus & Bruno Ghils - Translation: Marc Arys   © sbap 2017
 Sun is coming up (© Serge Van Heertum) Preparing for the missions of the day (© Serge Van Heertum)
Aircraft in area? (© Serge Van Heertum)  The "Down Patrol", first flight of the day (© Serge Van Heertum)
 G-FRAU Dassault Falcon 20D from Cobham  (© Serge Van Heertum) PH-HOW EC145 T2 as SAR  (© Serge Van Heertum)

Held annually since 1992, Frisian Flag continues to provide focused, high end, integrated training at a relatively low cost to participating nations. With potential local benefits in mind and looking to the near future and the transition to the F-35A Lightning II there are potential possible impacts to the Frisian Flag exercise and specifically the question, will it continue? As per KLU authorities, they will try to continue but obviously transitioning from one fighter to another is a lot of work and that could mean that during that timeframe (transitioning from F-16 to F-35) there could perhaps be a year without a Frisian Flag exercice. A possible scenario. But some other sources mention a possible 2018 edition with already the first deployment of F-35 from the USAF or the RAF. At this time we can only say wait and see…
Frisian Flag 2017 was again a large scale exercise organized by the Royal Netherlands Air Force between March 27th and April 07th and hosted at Leeuwarden airbase by the 322 TACTES (Tactical Training, Evaluation and Standardization).
The purpose of this exercise is to prepare the various units to a modern conflict or crisis support operation, such as the European Nations are involved in for the moment regarding the worldwide terrorism actions.
The last two decades western nations have been engaged in military operations essentially all over the world and in almost all of them air power played a significant role, sometimes even an autonomous role (Kosovo, Irak, Afghanistan, Lybia or Syria).
The exercise focuses on international cooperation and leadership, with all airspace authorities of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands working closely together. The Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) has command over the exercise area. Dutch and German military air combat controllers direct the exercise from the Centre. An AWACS radar aircraft from Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base also supports CRC with radar images and on-board air combat controllers.
Operating together also requires training together. During Frisian Flag, training is conducted in large-scale and complicated scenarios, where experienced fighter pilots learn how to plan, develop and execute a mission in a large coalition.
Political demands are great : they want a fast reaction, with minimum assets at minimum cost and avoiding collateral damage. Those are all logical demands but they're high so the trend is to see high demand, high requirement for combat ready air forces to be ready at short notice and effective with minimum fuss and assets. That puts a high strain on training and training requirements, Frisian Flag fulfils that requirement because Frisian Flag provides, at least within Europe, a very unique training opportunity for air forces to train and be able to create these effective combat ready coalition air forces.
If we operate together, we need to train together. That's the Frisian Flag motto and that's what Frisian Flag provides.
To obtain the best results, around 50 aircraft took off from Leeuwarden air base twice a day during the two weeks and the missions had an average of 1.5 hours flight time.
The objectives of Frisian Flag can be listed as follow:

o Provide air and ground crew with realistic training in a modern air combat environment.
o Plan, execute and debrief Large Force Employment missions.
o Practice different roles against a robust threat.
o Integrate with land based forces.
o Promote leadership, initiative and self-discipline.
o Enhance tactics evaluation, validation and development.
o Establish multinational relationships between air forces

In delivering these objectives the missions flown during Frisian Flag range from:
- Defensive protection of ground elements, slow mover or high value assets and integration with Air Defence systems
- Offensive pre-planned strikes (Air Interdiction), Air Superiority (Sweep/Escort), Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) and dynamic targeting via Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTAC) or a combination of both.

Providing a realistic ground based threat environment were a number of nations employing systems such as SA-6 'Gainful' and Roland, the Franco-German mobile short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system alongside simulated inflatable targets and 'Smokey Sam' missiles that are fired at aircraft in training situations as simulated SAMs. Ground based Command and Control (C2) for the exercise was provided by Netherlands AF Link 16 networks deployed to Leeuwarden and the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) at Hachenberg Barracks, Erndtebruck Germany that provided a similar function to that available from the NATO AWACS aircraft.
Employing a 180 NM x 120 NM chunk of airspace off the western coast of The Netherlands, each mission sees a Mission Commander from each unit take his or her turn to plan, develop and execute their specific mission profile. Planning for these missions takes around six hours with flight leads performing the initial planning activity within their specific role culminating in a mass briefing in which all aircrew are required to participate.
The 'Red Air' (bad guys) function throughout the exercise was performed 'in house' and aims to replicate representative threats from potential opponents. The overall mission split of forces averages out at around 70/30 (Blue/Red) for each mission scenario.
The two-week long drills saw the assets split into two teams: the "Red Force", that included the RAF Tornado GR4's and the French Mirage 2000's, and the "Blue Force" made of the Florida and Louisiana ANG F-15's, the German Eurofighter Typhoons, as well as F-16's from Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Mission durations varied with Red Air being the first elements to get airborne and head to the tankers to 'top off' fuel loads and position themselves in readiness for the imminent engagements as the particular scenario was played out. Post mission and with recovery of all assets complete the mass debrief is conducted with the effectiveness of the session enhanced by extensive use of GPS data downloaded from the pods/trackers carried by each participating aircraft. This data is consolidated and used to reconstruct the conduct of each mission and to validate the effectiveness of each specific sortie.
Given the popularity and growth of Frisian Flag year on year, rumours continue to rumble around that the exercise may be split into separate exercises, in a similar way to Red Flag and Green Flag, but it's too soon to say how this angle will be developed.
Whilst Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands, hosted the "tacair"; the supporting tankers, a French Air Force C-135FR, an Italian Air Force KC-767A, a German Air Force A-310MRTT and a RNAF KDC-10 were based at Eindhoven airport in the south. The NATO E-3 AWACS was flying directly from his home base of Geilenkirchen, Germany and a French Air Force E-3D "Sentry" from 2/91 "Bretagne" based at Avord in France.

Participant Aircraft on March 29th, April 03rd and April 04th
G-FRAU Dassault Falcon 20D

ANWB Medical Air Assistance BV

Royal Netherlands Air Force
J002 F-16AM
J005 F-16AM
J009 F-16AM
J011 F-16AM
J016 F-16AM
J020 F-16AM
J021 F-16AM
J063 F-16AM
J135 F-16AM
J136 F-16AM
J144 F-16AM
J362 F-16AM
J509 F-16AM
J513 F-16AM
J513 F-16AM
J516 F-16AM
J630 F-16AM
J632 F-16AM
J642 F-16AM
J979 F-16AM
Belgian Air Force
FA70  F-16AM
FA116 F-16AM
FA118 F-16AM
FA121 F-16AM
FA124 F-16AM
FA128 F-16AM
FB24   F-16BM

Air Force
3-IS (617) Mirage 2000D
3-AU (653) Mirage 2000D
3-IG (668) Mirage 2000D
3-XK (671) Mirage 2000D
3-JT (677) Mirage 2000D

German Air Force
30+53 EF2000 Typhoon
30+83 EF2000 Typhoon
30+98 EF2000 Typhoon
31+29 EF2000 Typhoon
31+30 EF2000 Typhoon
31+31 EF2000 Typhoon
31+34 EF2000 Typhoon
31+36 EF2000 Typhoon
31+39 EF2000 Typhoon
31+40 EF2000 Typhoon
Portuguese Air Force
15101 F-16AM
15104 F-16AM
15105 F-16AM
15110 F-16AM
15115 F-16AM

Royal Air Force
ZA369 (003) Tornado GR4
ZA447 (019) Tornado GR4
ZA459 (025) Tornado GR4
ZA472 (031) Tornado GR4
ZA554 (046) Tornado GR4
ZG779 (136) Tornado GR4

US Air Force / Air National Guard
80-058 McDonnell Douglas F-15D-29-MC (159FS)
85-096 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-39-MC (159FS)
86-148 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC (159FS)
86-155 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC (159FS)
86-161 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC (159FS)
86-162 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC (159FS)

81-039 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-31-MC (122FS)
83-012 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-35-MC (122FS)
83-036 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-36-MC (122FS)
83-041 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-36-MC (122FS)
85-102 McDonnell Douglas F-15C-39-MC (122FS)
North Sea Frisian Flag exercise area The same withe the different area codes
 (© Anthony Graulus)
  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Anthony Graulus) Memory notes... (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Anthony Graulus) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 We have seen the "Captain Mc Fly" ! (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Bruno Ghils)
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
  (© Anthony Graulus)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 The 349 Sqn anniversary FA70 just out of the paintshop 
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) Some friendly gestures  (© Anthony Graulus)
 Another Belgian humorous pilot  (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Bruno Ghils) (© Bruno Ghils)
(© Anthony Graulus)  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Bruno Ghils)
 (© Anthony Graulus)
  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 The "Boelke" anniversary aircraft  (© 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) A Typhoon in his lair  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Anthony Graulus)
  Hot behind... (© Bruno Ghils)
 (© Bruno Ghils) (© 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) (© Anthony Graulus)
 (© Bruno Ghils) (© Anthony Graulus)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
  (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
  159FS in action  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Anthony Graulus) (© Bruno Ghils)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Bruno Ghils)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)

The 122nd Fighter Squadron (122nd FS) is a unit of the Louisiana Air National Guard 159th Fighter Wing located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana. The 122nd is equipped with the F-15C/D Eagle. The squadron is a descendant organization of the 122nd Observation Squadron, established on 30 July 1940. It is one of the 29 original National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard formed before World War II.
The 122nd Observation Squadron, was formed in December 1940 at the New Orleans Municipal Airport, (currently known as Lakefront Airport). Two months later, with an assortment of 0-38's, 0-46's, 0-47's, 0-49's and BC-1A's to fly, the unit was called to active service at Esler Field in Alexandria, LA, in response to a general military call-up following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

 From left to right: Douglas O-38 - Douglas O-46 - North American O-47 - Stinson O-49 - North American BC-1A

World War II
With the United States' entry into World War II, the 122nd returned to New Orleans in December 1941 to conduct anti-submarine patrol over the Gulf of Mexico. Four missions were flown each day, the aircraft flying in pairs, as far as 100 miles out into the Gulf.
In February 1942, the Squadron was re-equipped with A-20 Havoc Attack Bombers and was deployed first to England as part of Eighth Air Force, then to North Africa as part of Operation Torch invasion forces in November 1943, assigned to Twelfth Air Force. The 122nd first landed at Fedala, French Morocco and participated in the capture of Casablanca. There, the squadron became part of the 68th Reconnaissance Group.
Several months later the A-20s were replaced by P-38 Lightnings, P-39 Cobras and P-40 Warhawks, and the unit was reorganized as a branch of the North African Fighter Training Command. In the summer of 1943, the unit was moved to Bertaux, Algeria, where members trained French and American pilots in navigation and general fighting tactics.
The 122nd was reassigned to HQ Fifteenth Air Force in May 1944 and was re-designated as the 885th Bombardment Squadron (heavy). Equipped with highly modified B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators, the unit transported supplies to partisans and engaged in nighttime special operations missions, flying into Occupied France, Fascist Italy, Yugoslavia and other parts of Occupied Europe supporting partisans and parachuting Allied Agents into enemy territory. Was inactivated in Italy in October 1945.
Louisiana Air National Guard
The wartime 885th Bombardment Squadron was re-designated as the 122nd Bombardment Squadron and was allotted to the Louisiana Air National Guard on 24 May 1946. It was organized at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, Louisiana and was extended federal recognition on 5 December 1946 by the National Guard Bureau. The 122nd Bombardment Squadron was bestowed the history, honors, and colors of the 885th Bombardment Squadron and all predecessor units.
The squadron was equipped with B-26 Invader light bombers and was allocated to the Tenth Air Force, Continental Air Command. The squadron was equipped with 25 aircraft, mostly Douglas B-26C Invaders, but a few "B" models as well, most of the aircraft assigned were newly manufactured at the Douglas plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the end of World War II and were never assigned to any wartime units.
During the postwar years, the Air National Guard was almost like a flying country club and a pilot could often show up at the field, check out an aircraft and go flying. However, these units also had regular military exercises that kept up proficiency and in gunnery and bombing contests they would often score better than full-time USAF units. The pilots practiced formation bombing with the B-26's as well as low-level intrusion and strafing. Parts were no problem and many of the maintenance personnel were World War II veterans so readiness was quite high and the planes were often much better maintained than their USAF counterparts.

Korean War
With the surprise invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950, and the regular military's complete lack of readiness, the ANG was mobilized into federal active duty. The 122nd Bombardment Squadron was federalized and ordered to active duty on 1 April 1951. By then most of the squadron's aircraft and many of its pilots had already been transferred to active-duty units and sent to Japan as replacement and reinforcing aircraft for B-26 units engaged in combat.
The squadron was transferred to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia as part of Ninth Air Force, Tactical Air Command. The 122nd became part of the 4400th Combat Crew Training Group, a temporary organization formed by TAC with the mission of training pilots in the B-26 for subsequent deployment to the war zone. The 122nd was joined by the PA ANG 117th Bombardment Squadron. On 1 November 1952 the training unit at Langley was inactivated and returned to Louisiana State Control on 1 January 1953.

Tactical Bomber mission
Following the end of the Korean War, the B-26's began to be withdrawn from active service and replaced by jet-powered equipment such as the Martin B-57 Canberra and the Douglas B-66 Destroyer. The 122nd was re-equipped with former active-duty B-26's and continued training with the versatile light bomber under the Texas ANG 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing, being operationally gained by Tactical Air Command.

Air Defense mission
In 1957, the 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing was transferred from TAC to Air Defense Command, being re-designated as an Air Defense Wing. The B-26's were sent into storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona (many would be later used in the Vietnam War as counter-insurgency aircraft), and the 122nd was re-designated as a Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 June 1957. With the transfer to ADC, the 122nd was initially equipped with some obsolete F-80C-11 (modified F-80A to F-80C standards) Shooting Stars as an interim aircraft, receiving F-86D Sabre Interceptors in late 1957 and lastly the upgraded F-86L Sabre Interceptor at the end of the year with uprated afterburning engines and new electronics.
With the F-86L, the squadron was selected by Air Defense Command to man a runway alert program on full 24-hour basis - with armed jet fighters ready to "scramble" at a moment's notice. This event brought the squadron into the daily combat operational program of the USAF, placing it on "the end of the runway" alongside regular USAF-Air Defense Fighter Squadrons.
In 1958, the 122ndwas authorized to expand to a group level, and the 159th Fighter Interceptor Group was established by the National Guard Bureau on 1 April 1958. The 122nd FIS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other support squadrons assigned into the group were the 159th Headquarters, 159th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 159th Combat Support Squadron, and the 159th USAF Dispensary.
In July 1960, the 159th converted to the F-102 Delta Daggers. In 1962, the 122nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was assigned to the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Mississippi, for six weeks of intensive flying training. Involved were 150 officers and airmen, including support elements from the 159th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 159th Material Squadron and 159thAir Base Squadron.

Tactical Air Command
In December 1970 the 159th was transferred from Aerospace Defense Command to Tactical Air Command. ADC was phasing down its manned interceptor force as the chances of a Soviet Bomber attack on the United States seemed remote. The unit was re-designated the 159th Tactical Fighter Group, and the 122nd Tactical Fighter Squadron was re-equipped with F-100D/F Super Sabres. In 1970, the F-100 was still considered a first-line aircraft, and most of the F-100s in the inventory were serving in South Vietnam flying combat missions. The Super Sabres received by the 122nd came from the USAFE 20th Tactical Fighter Wing which was transitioning to the General Dynamics F-111F. With the conversion to the F-100s, the ADC 24-hour alert status ended and retraining in tactical fighter missions began.
The 159th flew the F-100's for almost a decade, retiring the aircraft beginning in April 1979 when the 122nd began receiving F-4C Phantom II aircraft from active-duty units. In 1979 Aerospace Defense Command was inactivated, with Tactical Air Command taking over the Continental US Air Defense Mission. The 159th was assigned to Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC), named unit at the Numbered Air Force level under TAC. Under ADTAC, the 122nd began to fly Air Defense missions again with the F-4C, although the squadron was dual-hatted and continued to fly Tactical Fighter training missions with the Phantom.
The Phantoms were ending their service life in the mid-1980's, and in 1986, the F-4C's were replaced by F-15A/B Eagles. As the F-15's had no tactical bombing capability at the time, the 122nd continued the Air Defense mission under TAC.


 The "JZ" aircraft present at Leeuwarden (© Serge Van Heertum)

Modern era
In March 1992 the 159th Tactical Fighter Group became the 159th Fighter Group when the unit adopted the USAF Objective Organization, and the 122nd Fighter Squadron was assigned to the new 159th Operations Group. Later in June, Tactical Air Command stood down and was replaced by Air Combat Command (ADC). No change in mission was made and the 159th continued in the air defense role.
In the early 1990's, squadron aircraft and personnel were deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, flying combat missions over the former Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War as part of Operation Allied Force. On 11 October 1995, in accordance with the "one base-one wing" policy, the 159th Fighter Group was changed in status and was re-designated as the 159th Fighter Wing.
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 "Provisional" 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.
In the late 1990's, the 122nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron was activated on several occasions, sending packages of personnel and aircraft Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to fly Combat Air Patrol missions over Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch. Also the 122nd EFS was activated with a deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, flying CAP missions over Southern Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch.
In response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the 122nd Fighter Squadron engaged in Combat Air Patrols over major United States Cities as part of Operation Noble Eagle (ONE). ONE patrols continued into 2002 before being scaled down.
In 2006, the F-15A models were retired and the 122nd was upgraded to the more capable F-15C Eagle. As part of the Global War on Terrorism, the 122nd EFS have been deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF); Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, Operation New Horizons in Central and South America and Operation New Dawn in Afghanistan.
The most recent deployment of the 122nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron was completed in October 2012 when the squadron deployed to at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, and as part of the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group, the 122nd EFS flew missions in support of the Joint Air Defense of the Persian Gulf and Operation Enduring Freedom. The mission included providing air superiority in support of national military objectives and flying Fighter Integration Sorties with F-22 Raptors and F-15E Strike Eagles.

Douglas O-38, 1941–1942
Douglas O-46, 1941–1942
North American O-47, 1941–1942
Stinson O-49 Vigilant, 1941–1942
North American BC-1A, 1941-1942
Douglas A-20 Havoc, 1942
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, 1943
Bell P-39 Airacobra, 1943
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, 1943
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1943–1945
Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1944–1945
Douglas B-26B/C Invader, 1946–1957
Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star, 1957
North American F-86D Sabre Interceptor, 1957
North American F-86L Sabre Interceptor, 1957–1960
TF/F-102A Delta Dagger, 1960–1970
North American F-100D/F Super Sabre, 1970–1979
Mc Donell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II, 1979–1985
Mc Donell-Douglas F-15A/B Eagle, 1985–2006
Lockheed WC-130H, 1989 – present
Mc Donell-Douglas F-15C/D Eagle, 2006–present
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Anthony Graulus)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 The war markings on the 85-102 "Killer Legacy", souvenir of Irak
The stars: Mig 23 (27-01-91) and 2 Sukhoi SU-22 (07/02/91)

(© Serge Van Heertum)
"Good Vibrations" for the 83-012
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Bruno Ghils) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
Rendez-vous in 2018 with may be the first F-35 deployment...wait and see...  (© 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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