Frisian Flag 2008

Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

31 March  - 11 April 2008


Exercise Frisian Flag, a small Dutch variant of the major Flag exercises in the US and Canada which aim to train combat pilots in the art of working together in large multinational packages of dissimilar types of aircraft had its latest run during the first two weeks of April 2008. This year however, it proved rather difficult to amass the many types of aircraft present during earlier occasions. This was in mostly one way or the other due to pressing operational requirements on the part of prospective participants, but also the fact that Frisian Flag coincided with the Italian Air Forceīs Spring Flag exercise on Sardinia did not help.


For instance, the Finnish Air Force declined participation for reasons of the Dutch not being able to attend their ADEX exercise, oh well...

Fortunately, the French and the German Air Forces saved the multi type part of the exercise, the French debuting with Frisian Flag with their brand new Dassault Rafale. Up to five Rafales were present at the Dutch base, comprising three single seat Rafale C and a pair of two seat Rafale B. Unfortunately for the French however, the Rafales suffered from frequent problems, necessitating at least three visits by Saint Dizierīs Alpha Jets to bring in some required parts. Not an uncommon thing to see with any new weapons system.

Frisian Flag was marred by quite autrocious weather at times, especially during the first week. Things improved after the weekend however, enabling the great many enthousiasts present for the duration to take pictures like these and, not the least, allowing the participants to have a useful exercise. A total of 12 Dutch F-16's were joined by seven Belgian F-16's, six German Phantoms and as stated an eventual total of five Rafales. 


The Belgian contingent came from Florennes. Based No. 1 smaldeel had this F-16 FA-121 marked up with two anniversary texts with the squadron's thistle displayed to port and the text "celebrating 25 Years of Belgian Vipers" on a blue banner  to starboard. Some of the Belgian F-16's wore the FS station codes which have become fashionable again lately.

Old, but still going strong, the German Phantom. It should already have been retired years ago already, delays with the Eurofighter Typhoon program kept her in the air. However, the end is now in sight with an EF.2000 simulator building and other facilities now apparantly under construction at Germany's last F-4 base Wittmund. The Germans may have made short work of one or more Rafales during mock combat however, judging by the "Rafale Eater" inscription on the intake splitter plate of one of the jets.

In order to provide electronic jamming of communications and radar systems, the Royal Norwegian Air Force provided the services of this Dassault Falcon 20ECM from 717 Skv. Based at Rygge Air Base near Oslo, this unit flies a pair of Electronic Counter Measures tasked Falcons, alongside a single passenger configured one. The jets are named Hugin (041, depicted to the left) and Munin. They have been named for the ravens which accompanied Odin, the chief God in Norse mythology. 

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink