Exercise Frisian Flag 2002

Leeuwarden & Twenthe, the Netherlands

7 - 18 October 2002




Some 35 aircraft from various nations took part in exercise Frisian Flag 2002. Objective of this year's exercise was to train aircrew in the execution of complex missions flown by various types of aircraft from various nations. 

The first Frisian Flag exercise was staged at Leeuwarden, the Netherlands in 1992. At that time the title DIATIT was used, meaning Diana Tactical Integrated Training. Diana, the huntress godess, can be found in 323 squadron's badge. In 1993 the exercise was renamed DIAWACS in order to emphasise the participation of an E-3 AWACS. DIAWACS reverted to it's original name of DIATIT following the cancellation of E-3 participation in 1997 and 1998. The growing international participation caused another name change to Frisian Flag. The first Frisian Flag exercise was held in 1999. 

Initially, the exercise was flown out of one base, Leeuwarden, only. Frisian Flag 2002 however, saw the participating aircraft devided over Leeuwarden and Twenthe. This year's Frisian Flag saw participation of the following aircraft and units:


Blue Air, Leeuwarden:

Royal Netherlands Air Force

311 sq, 312 sq, 322 sq, 323 sq with F-16AM/BM

United States Air Forces Europe

493 FS with F-15C

Finnish Air Force

Fighter Squadrons 11, 21 and 31 with F-18C Hornet

French Air Force

ER 1/33 with Mirage F.1CR


Red Air, Twenthe:

Royal Netherlands Air Force

313 sq and 315 sq with F-16AM/BM

Swedish Air Force

F4 Jämtlands Wing with JA-37DI Viggen


Thanks again to the Public Relations Departments at Leeuwarden and Twenthe for organising the Photo Calls during which these pictures could be made.


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink

As mentioned above, Frisian Flag 2002,s Blue Forces operated out of Leeuwarden. These included F-16's from the air bases Leeuwarden as well as from Volkel. Leeuwarden's 323 sq is represented here by J-019 (above left). Volkel's 311 and 312 sq's are represented here by J-636 (right) and J-637 (left). 

All the Dutch F-16's taking part in the exercise flew in the air defence role. 



The USAFE's participation at Leeuwarden consisted of F-15C Eagles flying in the air-to-air role as well. These included 86-0166/LN (above left), 86-0147/LN (above right) and 84-0009/LN (left). All F-15C belonged to the single unit left still flying this model in Europe, 493 Fighter Squadron.


Most interesting participant and the reason for many spotters and photographers visiting Leeuwarden were the Finnish Air Force F-18C Hornets. The Finnish Hornets were from all three squadrons flying this type. The same could be said about the pilots  flying them. Top left, HN-449 can be seen on final approach to Leeuwarden. HN-445 is just starting it's take-off roll for 8 October's afternoon mission. HN-452 at lower left was caught after that day's afternoon mission. 


Like in 2001's Frisian Flag, the French  concentrated on the air-to-ground mission. This year however, the Armee de'l Air sent Mirage F.1CR aircraft from Escadron de Reconnaissance 1/33 to Leeuwarden. These jets operated in their secondary role of fighter bombers. Shown here are 634/33-CK landing (above left), 641/33-CG about to start it's take-off roll (above right) and 630/33-CU (left) after it's 8 October afternoon mission.

Frisian Flag Red Forces, Twenthe, 9 October 2002.

The role of the opposing Red Forces was played by two types from two nations. Both operated out of Twenthe. To the left, F-16AM J-020 of 315 sq can be seen returning to Twenthe after it's morning mission. To the right J-617, an F-16AM  from 313 sq can be seen taxying in. Note the non-standard location of the squadron badge on this jet.

The presence at Twenthe of Swedish Viggens, along with the Finnish Hornets at Leeuwarden, made Frisian Flag 2002 one of the most exiting exercises of 2002. Especially when one considers that the Viggens are nearing the end of their service with Sweden's Flygvapnet. Although the aircraft carried F17 as well as F4 codes, they belonged to F4 wing. F17 is now in the process of retiring the Viggen in favour of the JAS-39 Gripen. 

The Viggens were part of a batch that underwent an end of life update and were known as JA-37DI. 37427/27 was caught on take-off while 37421/21 is seen landing. 37414/14 was placed in front of the photographers gathered at Twenthe during a Photo Call on 9 October. Note the partly erased F17 wing code.