THROUGH THE LENS: Frisian Flag 2022

THROUGH THE LENS: Frisian Flag 2022 Leeuwarden Airbase, Netherlands

Report and photos by Peter van den Berg

April 25, 2022

After 2 years Frisian Flag took place from March 28th till April 8th. Two weeks of training with a wide variety of international participators. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this exercise was cancelled in the last 2 years so the last Frisian Flag was held in 2019.

Participators Frisian Flag 2022

  • Netherlands F-35A, 322 sqn Leeuwarden AB
  • Netherlands F-16, 312 sqn Volkel AB
  • United States F-16, 510 FS Aviano AB
  • Canada CF-188, 433 sqn Bagotville AB
  • Italy Tornado 6th Stormo Ghedi AB
  • Typhoon 51 Stormo Istrana AB (only a few days)
  • France EC3 Mirage 2000D Nancy AB (Air Force)
  • France Rafale M 11F Landivisau AB (Navy)
  • Germany and United Kingdom with Typhoons flying from their home base.

Missions

There is a wide variety of types of missions flown during Frisian Flag. Amongst these are air defense and offense missions but also missions to protect other aircraft or to eliminate static and mobile ground- and sea targets. The group is split up into red and blue teams during parts of the mission. The fighter pilots work either individually or in close collaboration with units of the Air Force and Navy (forward air controllers) during the elimination of targets.

Air defense systems are utilized in order to make the exercise as realistic as possible. These systems are deployed at, amongst others, Leeuwarden AB and Vliehorst (NATO exercise range). Leeuwarden AB is also equipped with the newest radar system (Multi Mission Radar – MMR) owned by the Royal Dutch Air Force.

Missions last 1.5 to 2 hours at average and missions are being flown twice a day. This year about 25-30 fighter jets are involved per missions. Each mission is led by a different participant. Extensive debriefing and analysis is carried out, all pilots are present. In contrast to other exercises, lessons are immediately extracted from the mission and shared/discussed within the group. Flights only take place during the day.

Frisian Flag is an exercise where operational tactics are trained in an international context on an annual basis when we don’t have to deal with COVID. The exercise lasts two weeks and practice is carried out in the highest spectrum of combat: joint and combined air performance. The daily training missions are planned, led and evaluated by a different participant every day, ensuring that all participants are trained but also challenged on all facets.

Organization of the exercise is in the hands of Leeuwarden’s 322 Squadron. It is tasked with the role of TACTES (Tactical Training Evaluation and Standardization. Insights and experience gained during Frisian Flag are retained within the so-called Fighter Center of Excellence (FCoE) at Leeuwarden Air Base. This intel is to be used and deployed during future exercises, contributing to improving Frisian Flag in the future.

Here’s a look, THROUGH THE LENS, at Frisian Flag 2022…

Peter van den Berg
Photojournalist at Aviation Photography Digest
Peter van den Berg is from Coevorden, Netherlands. His love for military aviation began in 1980. The first airbase where he photographed was Soesterberg, Netherlands where the 32 TFS was stationed with the F-15. After photographing many military exercises in Europe over the years, Peter decided to spend the last 15 years visiting Asia and the USA. He regularly writes books for Veldhuis Media Group. Peter has written books about NAS Fallon, Red Flag and the Japanese Airforce.

In addition to publishing books, Peter is working as a teacher for senior secondary vocational education.

Peter uses Nikon equipment.

Peter can be reached at: [email protected]
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