2018 Leeuwarden exercise Frisian Flag
The annually held exercise Frisian Flag at Leeuwarden air base had in 2018 as most interesting participants US F15 Eagles and Polish MiG29’s. The US F15C/D Eagles were of the 123rd FS Oregon ANG (Westcoast) and the 104th FW Massachusetts ANG (Eastcoast USA) – both send a deployment of 6 aircraft which totaled 12 Eagles during Frisian Flag 2018! Poland send 3 MiG29’s accompanied by a detachment of their F16C/D’s.
During Frisian Flag ‘red air’ and ‘blue air’ practice air combat while others fly Close Air Support (CAS). NATO E3 AWACS and tankers of different nationalities support the waves. Air to surface systems (SAM), of most favorably Eastern Europe originating models, provide realistic ground threats. Frisian Flag derives from the well-known Red Flags and Maple Flags, during which large numbers of fighters and bombers battle each other in a large area. Frisian Flag uses a similar large exercise area over the North Sea; call signs like ‘Mig’, ‘Flanker’ and ‘Ivan’ give away which color air some fighters fly for!
Other aircraft participating during Frisian Flag 2018 are Spanish Hornets, French Mirage 2000D’s, French Rafales (Air force and Navy), German Eurofighters, Belgian F16’s and Dutch F16’s of Leeuwarden air base and Volkel air base. A civilian Dasault 20 of Cobham provides airborne ECM support/ threats.
Among the Dutch F16's was a very special specimen: the F16B J-882/AZ which was operated for many years by the 148FS of the Arizona Air National Guard out of Tucson. The KLu has several of its F16's permanently based on Tucson for F16 fighter pilot training. These F16's never operate out of the USA, but since the F16 era is coming to an end the J-882 was brought back to the Netherlands. And operated out of Leeuwarden air base.