Frisian Flag April 2016, Leeuwarden AB/Netherland and EART 2016

01 Netherland_Lockheed Martin F-16AM_J-014_313 Sqn

e 2016 edition of Frisian Flag was conducted between 11th to 22nd 2016 at Leeuwarden AB in the North of the Netherlands. The participating refueling aircraft were stationed at the NATO Base Eindhoven and belonged to the EARC. This exercise takes place nearly each year since 1992 and includes around  seventy fighter aircraft, which come from NATO and European countries. Each day two missions of sixty to ninety minutes were flown, with each mission taking some forty-five minutes for each launch. They’re flying in the airspaces of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, mainly above the North Sea. During the mission, the forces are parted roughly 70/30% (Blue/Red Air). The participants of Red Air are among those which take off first, to position themselves for the current scenario after the first air refueling.

The global developments in the last years showed that combat ready, well trained Air Forces are mandatory for each state. The Western hemisphere is and was permanently involved in military operations and in each of it the Air Forces played a significant role. That concludes we need for these operations well trained and educated personal. A further development is that all these operations are done without exceptions in coalitions. A state doesn’t go into a conflict alone anymore. Sure, we have NATO in the West, but the last missions worldwide that the coalitions were formed for were joined by non-NATO partners too. These scenarios bring new challenges. In the latest deployments in Afghanistan, Libya or currently in Iraq / Syria, troops had to be relocated within a few days. High demands are placed on the crews and these also put the air force on their training. For this reason Frisian Flag is so valuable, it offers high-quality training as it is only rarely available in Europe! The main feature of Frisian Flag is to plan large combined air operation (COMAO) in realistic scenarios, to fly, and to analyze subsequently.


Participants Frisian Flag 2016
Belgium, F-16AM (349. Squadron, Kleine Brogel AB) / Multi – Role
Finland, F-18C (HävLLv 31, Rissala AB) / Air-Air
France, Mirage 2000D (EC 03.003, Nancy AB) / Air-Ground
Germany, Eurofighter (TaktLwG 31, Nörvenich) / Air-Air
Netherland, F-16AM/BM (312, 313 & 322 Squadron, Volkel & Leeuwarden AB) / Multi – Role
Norway, Dassault Falcon 20ECM (717 Squadron, Oslo-Gardermoen) / Electronic Warfare
Poland, F-16C (31 TAB, Poznan AB) / Multi – Role
UK, Tornado GR.4 (IX(B) Squadron, RAF Marham) / Air-Ground
USA, F-15C/D Eagle (104FW/131FS ANG Barnes MA, 144FW/194FS ANG Fresno CA) / Air-Air

Eindhoven AB/Netherland

The European Air Transport Command (EATC) completed the European Air Refueling Training (EART) for the third time). This exercise took place in parallel to the exercise Frisian Flag in Leeuwarden, which also supports the Frisian Flag. The EART is an exercise independent of the Flag missions.

Deputy Director of the exercise, Colonel Jurgen van der Biezen stated that “we need the training and the jets from the Frisian Flag need the fuel. The primary goal of EART is to enable the tanker crews of the EATC nations to have a realistic training possibility in a multinational environment in complex scenarios. Above all, joint planning is at the main goal of the exercise. At EART, we have the opportunity to plan and fly together. In addition to the normal refueling procedures, this includes, for example, the formation flight with other tankers or the practice of procedures with optical signals without the use of radio. Important is direct contact with other nations. One gets to know each other and has a direct exchange of experiences concerning different application procedures. All this promotes the effectiveness of the increasingly international operations and assignments,” the Dutch Colonel continued.

Every day the tankers flew two missions across the North Sea, with the difficulty constantly increasing. Correspondingly, elaborate plans required the coordination with operators of up to seventy aircraft. A big challenge for the maintenance teams was to prepare the tankers again for the next flight within a short time. The turnaround times (time between landing and the next start) were only about sixty minutes.


Participants EART 2016

France, Boeing C-135FR (GRV02.091, Istres)
Germany, Airbus A310 MRTT (BMVG, Cologne)
Italy, Boeing KC-767A (14º Stormo Sergio Sartoff (14th Wing), Pratica di Mare Air Base)
Netherland, McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 (334 Sqn, Eindhoven)

Peter Boschert

Peter is a photographer covering events in the United States and in Europe. He likes to cover Nellis AFB, NAS Fallon and RAF Lakenheath.

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