April 2019 saw the start of the annual edition on the full scale multinational exercise Friasian Flag at Leeuwarden Air Force Base in the northern part of the The Netherlands. Air and ground crews from several NATO allies joined this annual large exercise hosted by Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), with some 50 military aircraft.
Dino van Doorn report for Global Military Aviation Photography (GMAP) on the 2019 edition of the exercise.


From 1-12th of April the 2019 edition of the full scale exercise “Frisian Flag” is taking place and is organized at Leeuwarden Air Base, The Netherlands. The exercise is conducted for two weeks in several designated areas over the North Sea to work out large complex missions with +/- 40 fighter jets, tankers and AWACS radar aircraft.
During this edition of the Frisian Flag six different NATO allies participated in the exercise; The Netherlands, France, Germany, Switserland, Poland and the United States.

It is important that the pilots from all the different countries train together and to get used to each other during the missions. The exercise focuses on international coörporation, precision and the leadership skills from the participating NATO squadrons, to prepare the pilots for future coöperative operations within NATO.
In order to create a realistic enviroment, several scenarios are plotted and prepared by the air crews. Twice a day missions are prepared and flown by waves of +/- 40 aircraft from Leeuwarden Air Base situated in the north of The Netherlands and close to the North Sea training area’s.
The aircrews have to prepare and execute specific scenario’s vary from air interdiction missions preventing hortile air forces to enter a designated area to attacking specified ground targets coörperating with forward air controllers both on land or at sea. During these missions the mission leader has to plan and execute the mission against these targets while minimize loses.


No less than 54 aircraft from six allied nations took part in the 2019 edition of the Frisian Flag exercise.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) participated with two of their F-16 squadrons. The Participating RNLAF units came from Volkel Air Base: 312 and 313 Squadron.

Besides the Dutch contingent also a delegation from France was present with bunch of Dassault Mirage-2000’s. The United States Air Force (USAF) was well represented with ten F-16C Fighting Falcons from the Duluth Air National Guard (ANG). Other NATO allies who joined this large scale exersice were the German Air Force with their EF-2000 Typhoon’s from Norvenich and Wittmundhaven, and Poland with F-16C’s fighters. Switserland participated with four F-18 Hornet  jets but headed home a few days before the end of the exercise.

With such a diverse participation, it has become clear that the Frisian Flag is the largest multinational exercise in The Netherlands!

Simultaneous to the Frisian Flag exercise, European Air Refueling Training (EART) exercise is taking place at Eindhoven Air Base, the Netherlands. This enables the tanker crews to train to refuel different types of aircraft and enables the participants of Frisian Flag to refuel from a variety of tankers. The tankers also fly their missions twice a day in order to refuel the participating aircraft.

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