report by : Thierry Letellier
The Frisian Flag international exercise took place at Leeuwarden air between April 11th and April 22nd. As it was available for previous editions, various NATO countries took part to the event like Belgium, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Finland, Poland, Norway, United States and of course the Netherlands. The ultimate goal of these two weeks exercice is to enhance the collaboration between the crews comming from different nationalities and to train them in complex war situations when using different materiels and weapons. The use of same procedures and language would also be absolutely vital in case of a real conflict.
Frisian Flag 2016 was for the first time linked to the NATO exercise Ramstein Guard-5. Through the CAOC ( Combined Air Operations Centre ) ; the NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is planned to train the NATO designed regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air Defense Systems. The local CRC (Control and Reporting Centre )in cooperation with the 322 Training Evaluation and Standardization ( TACTES ) KLU sqadron; led the crews to operate mostly over the north sea area divided for the occasion in 4 ( TGB )parts.
On the basis of two missions a day ; the crews were driven in many kinds of missions evoluting in the most realistic modern conflict environment . As with 2015, Frisian Flag saw participation from United States Air National Guard (ANG) units operating in Europe as part of the ongoing Theatre Security Package (TSP) deployments known as operation ‘Atlantic Resolve’, designed to demonstrate the United States’ ongoing commitment to reassure NATO of its collective security and to ensure ongoing stability in the region. Participating ANG units in TSP 16-02 were two F-15 Eagle units from the California and Massachusetts ANG. The two ANG units deployed a total of 12 aircraft to Europe as part of TSP 16-02.
During many missions the flight time was extended with air-to-air refuelling support coming from a mixed contingent of tankers based at Eindhoven Air Base as part of the European Air to Air Refuelling Training (EART). The purpose of the EART is to create a realistic training environment to exchange information and practice amongst crews as well as to enable certification processes between tanker and receiver aircraft. Airborne Early Warning & Control during FF2016 was provided by the NATO AEW&CF Boeing E-3A fleet at Geilenkirchen . Providing the electronic warfare ‘threat’ was a pair of Dassault Falcon 20 one operated by Cobham PLC from the U.K, in conjonction with the FEKS/717skv Fa-20ECM from Norwegian AF.
The Belgian Air Component included the F-16AM aircraft comming from thewith 10th wing at Kleine-Brogel AB. The most modern F-16’s operating in Europe, the Block 52 F-16’s of the Polish Air Force from Poznañ/Krzesiny were also involved . They were theorically able to operate A2A and Air to ground missions. The German AF participating EF2000(T) Eurofighters came from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31 (TLG.31) at Nörvenich AB. At the same time with air-to-air missions ; were led air-to-ground missions devoted to the Royal Air Force’s 9 Squadron at Marham, which sent six Panavia Tornado GR.4’s The other ‘ground unit’ at Frisian Flag 2016 were the Armée de l’Air Mirage 2000D’s of 3 Wing based at BA.133 Nancy-Ochey. The Finnish Air Force came back to Leeuwarden, after their 2015 participation, with HavLLv 11 & 31 ; six McDonnell-Douglas F-18C/D Hornet.
Globalairpower had the great pleasure to spend two days at Leeuwarden during thi Frisian Flag édition. The nice weather with eastern winds were good conditions to facilitate the pictures conditions.