Two multinational exercises were held simultaneously in the Netherlands this year. The first one being annual large scale live flying exercise Frisian Flag at Leeuwarden AB and the other one being exercise 'European Air-to-Air Refuelling Training (EART 15)' flying from Eindhoven AB. The latter was organised by the European Air Transport Command (EATC). The four tankeraircraft involved at Eindhoven supported aircraft participating in Frisian Flag.

Frisian Flag is THE large-scale fighter exercise in Europe and this year's edition was the most complex to date with all kinds of aspects involved in different kinds of fighter mission scenario's. Responsible for the planning and organisation is 322 TACTES squadron. The area of operations were northern parts of the Netherlands, northern Germany, Denmark and off course large parts over the Northsea. Twice a day arond fourty aircraft took off from Leeuwarden. Aircraft participating were Finnish Hornets, German Eurofighters (ten !!), Spanish Hornets, Polish and Dutch F-16's and American F-15 Eagles. The American Eagles were twelve F-15C/D's from Jacksonville Florida belonging to the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. They were ten days prior to Frisian Flag allready at Leeuwarden as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP) in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. This operation is to strenghten the cooperation with US-allies and to show force to threats worldwide (TSP was allready in the Pacific region).

The Eagles will operate for six months from Europe and will also visit Bulgaria. During Frisian Flag six Eagles were equiped with the latest APG-63 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. With this radar the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile can be used at full advantage. During the exercise a deployed German CRC (Command and Reporting Centre) was capable of producing an air picture the same as done by an E-3 AWACS. For realistic threats the Luftwaffe placed SA-6 Gainful, SA-8 Gecko and EADS Roland missiles. The Dutch army placed National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS). Furthermore the Dutch Army provided Joint Tactical Air Controllers, or JTAC's. A Skyline Learjet and a Dassault 20 of Cobham provided electronic warfare measures.

According to several people involved the exercise was a great succes and the future of Frisian Flag as an annual live flying exercise looks good despite the fact that Leeuwarden will see some major changes with the arrival of the F-35A and MQ-9 Reapers. But for now the F-16's off 322 squadron will grace the skies above Leeuwarden for still a couple of years to come.