Frisian Flag is an international exercise aimed at training pilots on cooperation in demanding situations. Pilots face large coalitions of power in countries such as Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and eastern Syria. Exercises like Frisian Flag are important for the proper execution of procedures. Dutch F-16s are deployed above Iraq and East Syria. In order to carry out these missions properly and professionally, training sessions are held during Frisian Flag.
In addition to the participating F-16s from the Leeuwarden and Volkel Air Bases, the German Air Force is also represented with its Eurofighters. The French Air Force sent its Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter aircraft to Frisian Flag. Other participants are the Spaniards with their F-18s, the Polish Air Force with F-16s and MiG-29 fighter jets and the US Air Force with F-15s. Although there were fewer participating countries than in previous editions, about the same number of aircraft were involved in this year’s edition.
The USA was in the middle of a training tour through Europe. Three weeks before the start of Frisian Flag, they flew to Leeuwarden with 12 Air National Guards F-15s, 6 F-15s from Portland, Oregon (123rd Fighter Squadron) and 6 F-15s from Barnes, Massachusetts (131st Fighter Squadron).
The Americans are present with a total of about 270 staff.
The choice for Leeuwarden Air Base – as the host of this major exercise in Europe – makes sense. The air base is close to a large practice location above the North Sea. This eliminates unnecessary time wasted on traveling to and from the training area, adding to the effectivity of the exercise which can be held in only two weeks.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force works in close conjunction with other countries in order to save costs, of which Frisian Flag is a good example. For The Netherlands, there are no costs involved in shipping personnel and equipment to overseas areas. Participating countries pay their own transportation, stationing, personnel and fuel costs. Leeuwarden AB provides sufficient facilities for this exercise to its participants in terms of platforms and office space