report by: Thierry Letellier

In the north west of the Netherlands ( Friesland ) is established Leeuwarden Airforce Base, a very famous place; due to The annual FRISIAN FLAG exercice. From 13th to 24th of April, jointly with European Air-to-Air Refuelling Training held at Eindhoven AB; 322 TACTESS Squadron was the official host of this edition of Frisian Flag. It was a big first one for the 322nd squadron to organise the Frisian FLag. During previous editions, 323 Squadron was responsable of the organisation of the exercice but; 323 TACTESS was deactivated in 2014 in order to become the first squadron in the KLU to acquire the F-35A. Together with the European delegations, the spotlight was very much on the newcomers from USAF Air National Guard . Within the framework of the Operation Atlantic Resolve; a composite unit designated 159th Expeditionary Squadron made up of six F-15C of the 142nd Fighter Wing , 123 Fighter Squadron ; Oregon Air National Guard and six F-15C of the 125 Fighter Wing . The 159 EFS is deployed in Europe for the next six months, as a Theatre Security Package of “Atlantic Resolve”.

The exercice period was devoted to simulate multi-national composite air operations. Operating a large panel of scenarios to cover most of the multiple aspects of a modern air warfare, the missions were operated in the huge reserved blocks of airspace . Basically,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).

With 2 missions a day, including offensive and defensive aspects; the composite force was involved in air superiority and escorts , slow-moving high-value assets protection or supression of enemy air defence systems. To extend the mission duration; the air tankers from the European Air-to-Air Refuelling Training ( EART ) operating from Eindhoven AB ; were at the disposal of the Frisian Flag operations.

Together the the Air National Guard F-15C, we were able to note 10 Eurofighters EF-2000 from Tactical Wing 31 of German Airforce .Then Finnish Airforce and Ejercito del Aire operating 6 F-18 Each, the -C version for the finnish and EF-18 M/BM For the spanish . The 2 squadrons operating the F-16 were the Polish Airforce withe the C version and the KLU with the AM version. For the Royal Netherlands Air Force were also noted six f-16 AM from the 312 Squadron . 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.

This Frisian Flag edition, with an about perfect weather and a very nice athmosphere; will remain in my opinion as some momentous moments!