Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Pierre Taquet, Anthony Graulus, Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock
Translation: Marc Arys     © sbap 2018
 

The international NATO exercise Frisian Flag, organized by the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force - KLU) offers, since 1992, a high standard integrated training to the participating countries. From 09 till 20 April, Fightertown Leeuwarden was once again the home base to most of the participating fighter aircraft.
During a while the 2018 edition was however on a trade-off, whether the annual exercise would go on or not, as the KLU is in the integration phase of its new F-35A fighter.
Despite all of this, the 2018 edition went on, without the participation of this 5th generation fighter, if only the USA having already operational squadrons on the Lightning II, which, at a certain point, was the hope of the organizers. The possibility of having a year without Frisian Flag is still actually depending on the integration program of the F-35A in the KLU, as Leeuwarden airbase sits in the frontline of this program with the 322 TACTES (Tactical Training, Evaluation and Standardization Squadron).
Within the frame of the 2018 exercise, about 60 fighter aircraft of six different nations were based in Friesland, but the big novelty was the participation of 3 A-4N Skyhawk, sadly operating directly from their base of Wittmund in Germany.
These Skyhawk are the property of the Canadian company Discovery Air Defence Services (DADS) ensuring target-towing missions for the Luftwaffe, flying 7 former Israeli A-4N, acquired through Advanced Training Systems International (ATSI) in the United States.

 
Fightertown Leeuwarden via Google Earth  (Serge Van Heertum©)
 

2018 saw once again the participation of 2 units of the USAF Air National Guard, the Oregon ANG (123 FS / 142 FW) "Redhawks" and the Massachusetts ANG (131 FS / 104 FW) "Death Vipers". These two "exotic" squadrons in Northern Europe already took part in Frisian Flag 2015 and 2016.
The history of these 2 squadrons of the ANG can be found on our previous Frisian Flag pages:
http://www.sbap.be/events/2015/012friflag2015/012friflag2015.htm
http://www.sbap.be/events/2016/005frisianflag2016/005frisianflag2016.htm
The aim of such an exercise still stays the preparation of the crews and personnel of the various Air Forces to an eventual active participation (as a coalition member) in the different conflicts raging through the planet and actually mainly located in the Arabic world.
Operating together also requires training together and is the leitmotiv of the Frisian Flag exercise, offering mission scenarios as close to operational reality as can be, evolving during those two weeks and increasingly more difficult, confronting the crews to the realities of modern conflicts. For the NATO-forces, interoperability and quick reactions are the keys to success.

The objectives of Frisian Flag are:
- Provide air and ground crew with realistic training in a modern air combat environment.
- Plan, execute and debrief Large Force Employment missions.
- Practice different roles against a robust threat.
- Integrate with land based forces.
- Promote leadership, initiative and self-discipline.
- Enhance tactics evaluation, validation and development.
- 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 Defense systems:
- Offensive pre-planned strikes (Air Interdiction), Air Superiority (Sweep/Escort), Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) and dynamic targeting via Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTAC) or a combination of both.

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.

 
Participating aircraft
 

KLU
J-006 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-009 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-017 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-201 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-511 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-624 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn (No squadron markings)
J-628 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-632 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-879 F-16AM 322 Tactess Sqn
J-003 F-16AM No squadron markings
J-005 F-16AM 312 sqn
J-015 F-16AM 312 sqn
J-136 F-16AM 313 Sqn
J-196 F-16AM 313 Sqn
J-514 F-16AM 313 Sqn
J-630 F-16AM 312 sqn
J-643 F-16AM 313 Sqn
J-646 F-16AM 312 sqn
J-866 F-16AM 312 sqn
J-882 F-16BM 313 sqn / AZ 148th FS - 162nd FW

Spanish Air Force
C.15-16/15-03 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
C.15-22/15-09 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
C.15-23/15-10 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
C.15-28/15-15 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
C.15-29/15-16 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
C.15-35/15-22 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
C.15-41/15-28 EF-18M Ala 15 Zaragoza
CE.15-03/15-72 EF-18BM Ala 15 Zaragoza
CE.15-05/15-74 EF-18BM Ala 15 Zaragoza
CE.15-09/15-77 EF-18BM Ala 15 Zaragoza

French Air Force
314 / 4-HP Rafale B EC01.004 BA 113 Saint-Dizier
317 / 4-HO Rafale B EC01.004 BA 113 Saint-Dizier
338 / 4-IO Rafale B EC01.004 BA 113 Saint-Dizier
346 / 4-FM Rafale B EC01.004 BA 113 Saint-Dizier
353 / 4-FT Rafale B EC01.004 BA 113 Saint-Dizier
102 / 30-EF Rafale C EC01.030 BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan
104 / 30-HH Rafale C EC03.030 BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan
125 / 30-GD Rafale C EC02.030 BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan
128 / 30-GG Rafale C EC03.030 BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan (SPA 162 paint)
645 / 3-XP Mirage 2000D EC03.003 BA 133 Nancy-Ochey
648 / 3-XT Mirage 2000D EC03.003 BA 133 Nancy-Ochey
668 / 3-IG Mirage 2000D EC03.003 BA 133 Nancy-Ochey
681 / 3-AG Mirage 2000D EC01.003 BA 133 Nancy-Ochey

Polish Air Force
4042 F-16C-52CF 31.BLT/ 3&6.elt Poznañ/Krzesiny
4043 F-16C-52CF 31.BLT/ 3&6.elt Poznañ/Krzesiny
4045 F-16C-52CF 31.BLT/ 3&6.elt Poznañ/Krzesiny
4047 F-16C-52CF 31.BLT/ 3&6.elt Poznañ/Krzesiny
4055 F-16C-52CF 31.BLT/ 3&6.elt Poznañ/Krzesiny
59 MIG-29A 23Blt/1.elt Miñsk Mazowiecki  "Mjr.Pil.Zdzislaw Henneberg"
89 MIG-29A 23Blt/1.elt Miñsk Mazowiecki  "S/Ldr. Boleslaw Drobièski"
111 MIG-29A 23Blt/1.elt Miñsk Mazowiecki  "Por.Pil.Miroslaw Feric"

Luftwaffe
30+57 EF2000 TLG71 "Richthofen" Wittmund
30+86 EF2000 TLG71 "Richthofen" Wittmund
30+87 EF2000 TLG71 "Richthofen" Wittmund
30+89 EF2000 TLG71 "Richthofen" Wittmund
31+01 EF2000 TLG31 "Richthofen" Wittmund
31+04 EF2000 TLG31 "Richthofen" Wittmund
31+08 EF2000 TLG71 "Richthofen" Wittmund

 

USAF

Massachusetts ANG "Death Vipers" Westfield - Barnes AFB
83-0018 / MA F-15C-35MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Southampton"
84-0028 / MA F-15C-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "City of Chicopee"
85-0111 / MA F-15C-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "City of Holyoke"
85-0118 / MA F-15C-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Ludlow"
85-0134 / MA F-15D-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Foxboro"
86-0158 / MA F-15C-41MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Wilbraham"

Oregon ANG "Redhawks" Portland Municipal Airport
84-0002 / OR F-15C-37MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Salem"
84-0003 / OR F-15C-37MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Corvallis"
84-0005 / OR F-15C-37MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Bend"
84-0021 / OR F-15C-38MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG  No markings
85-0094 / OR F-15C-39MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Portland"
85-0106 / OR F-15C-39MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG  "City of Astoria"

  
USAF Air National Guard F-15C compilation (Serge Van Heertum© & Philippe Decock©)
 
Massachusetts ANG (131 FS / 104 FW) "Death Vipers"
 





83-0018 / MA F-15C-35MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Southampton"
84-0028 / MA F-15C-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "City of Chicopee"
85-0111 / MA F-15C-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "City of Holyoke"
85-0118 / MA F-15C-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Ludlow"
85-0134 / MA F-15D-40MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Foxboro"
86-0158 / MA F-15C-41MC 131FS/104FW Massachusetts ANG "Town of Wilbraham"
 
Oregon ANG (123 FS / 142 FW) "Redhawks"
 






84-0002 / OR F-15C-37MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Salem"
84-0003 / OR F-15C-37MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Corvallis"
84-0005 / OR F-15C-37MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Bend"
84-0021 / OR F-15C-38MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG  No markings
85-0094 / OR F-15C-39MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG "City of Portland"
85-0106 / OR F-15C-39MC 123FS/142FW Oregon ANG  "City of Astoria"
 
 April 11th First Wave
 
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mix up 312 and 313 squadron for the J-015
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) The boar comes out of the wood ...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mirage 2000D quartet...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A typhoon approach ...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©)
(Anthony Graulus©) Smoke on...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) F-15C remain an elegant fighter
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Polish blast
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Town of Southampton"
(Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) The electronic jamming plane
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) After you Sir...No please, after you
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Morning mission is over, back to Fightertown Leeuwarden   (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
Left wheel first and little bit before the runway threshold...   (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
A non conventional approach for the Spanish Air Force
(Pierre Taquet©)
Little mistake between the two runways...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
This gave an interesting pass performed by "Miguel" Sin Suerte   (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
Little bit more conventional approach this time
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
(Anthony Graulus©)
 
April 11th Second Wave
 
Afternoon missions are launched   (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Enlarged quartet this time   (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Who believed it ... yesterday's enemies, today's allies
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Keuf Keuf Keuf...Thanks Mister Vladimir Klimov
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©)
Not really stealth plane...
(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©)
 Afternoon missions back home...  (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
The 15-15 go around after having accompanied his wingman in trouble
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Emergency landing with hydraulic problems for "Miguel" Sin Suerte
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
Arrival of a Polish support aircraft: PZL M28 Bryza
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
  April 19th missions
 
(Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
In the heat of the jets...   (Philippe Decock©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©)
F-15C with the witches city of Salem markings
(Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) "City of Bend"
(Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) SPA 162 special paint, the left side
(Philippe Decock©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Philippe Decock©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
The SPA  162 special paint Rafale, but the right side this time   (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Philippe Decock©)
 

EART 2018
The European Air Refueling Training 2018 was also once again organized at the same time as Frisian Flag at Eindhoven airbase. The first exercise of this kind was organized in 2014 and in 2016 the participation was opened up to the EATC members (European Air Transport Command).
The aim of the EART exercise is to train the crews, bowsers, planners, technicians and engineers, including the maintenance personnel, in air-refueling operations.
Thanks to the common Organisation with the Frisian Flag exercise, the EART offers the participating nations the possibility to train their tanker and fighter crews, together with the execution of most realistic missions.
Participants to EART 2018 were the Luftwaffe with an Airbus A310 MRTT, the KLU with a Mc Donnell-Douglas KDC-10, the French Armée de l'Air with a Boeing KC-135FR and a non EATC member the USAF with a Boeing KC-135R.

Press release : Eindhoven 14.04.2018 - 12.32  (Pictures in flight GGB©)

Conflict in Syria - Western strikes - France and the United States retrieved their tanker airplanes deployed to the Netherlands.

Saturday April 14th, military sources stated that, during the week, France and the United States recalled their tanker aircraft KC-135 from a European aerial exercise in the Netherlands, in perspective of strikes against the regime of Syrian president Bachar al-Assad.
This exercise, "European Air Refuelling Training" (EART) started on Monday 9th, departing from the Ducth airbase at Eindhoven and was planed till April 20th, in parallel with another exercise "Frisian Flag", operating fighter planes from the airbase of Leeuwarden (in the North-West of the Netherlands).
However, since Tuesday 10th, well before the strikes against the Syrian regime on the night of Friday 13th to Saturday 14th, Paris and Washington withdraw their KC-135 - a Boeing 707 based tanker aircraft -invoking "operational needs", according to European and Dutch military sources.
This proves that tanker capability is scarce throughout the world, said one of the sources.
So the EART exercise was reduced to just two participants instaed off four : a Dutch KDC-10 and a German A310 MRTT.
France entrusted the bombing raids on military installations near the capital of Damas and the city of Homs (in the center of the country) to several Rafale fighter-bombers having departed from French bases, according to images published by the Army ministry. Technically, these aircraft have been in need of several air-air refuellings to complete their long mission.
(Infos source BELGA)

 

SBAP would like to thanks the Ministerie van Defensie NL, The Koninklijke Luchtmacht and the Fightertown Leeuwarden authorities for the opportunities making this large pictorial report possible.

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