2017 Event Review

FRISIAN FLAG 2017 March 27-April 7, 2017


Location: Leeuwarden Air Base, The Netherlands
Admission: Not a public event
Parking: N/A
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: Not an air show
United States Army Special Forces Black Daggers Parachute Team

Emblem of Frisian Flag 2017

From March 27th to April 7th, the Royal Netherlands Air Force hosted one of Europe's largest aerial warfare exercises at its Leeuwarden Air Base. The 322nd Sqn at Leeuwarden AB is responsible for the organization of Frisian Flag. More than 60 aircraft from seven nations were stationed on the air base.

The world is changing. The conflicts are getting closer to Europe, the threat level is increasing due to land based surface to air missiles and modern aircraft. Recent conflicts clearly have shown the importance of international cooperation. Airpower is still key to the joint fight as a conflict cannot be resolved by one party alone. Engaging in a conflict means assisting other nations in restoring order. The emphasis of the air forces lays in supporting ground forces in achieving their objectives by creating freedom of movement for the land and sea assets. All that can only be done by operating in coalitions. In the past decades coalition members were working within NATO, based on strict and tight procedures. The last five to ten years non-NATO members joint the coalitions and the others had to work with them as well and effectively as possible. The latest conflicts showed the need to operate with other nations on a very short amount of time. This means there is no time for every conflict and every type of operation to sit together with the coalition partner to figure out how to do business best. Everybody had to be ready at any time, all together, at short notice. With decreasing numbers of aircraft and personnel over the last years and no tolerance for collateral damage, precision and effectiveness have become the top priority.

Pilots and mission commanders are required to increase their knowledge with the operation of different types of aircraft. The individual pilot must be able to adequately execute missions with many other aircraft around and working together in large formations. All this requires training and FRISIAN FLAG provides the ideal occasion to practice this.

The objective of this large scale exercise is to provide realistic training in a modern air combat environment with large force employment missions. The airspace for the exercise is 100 nm x 200 nm and gives space to 50+ aircraft at the same time. Frisian Flag is also designed to promote leadership. Experienced pilots are given the opportunity to devise, develop and ultimately carry out a mission in a larger context than he is used to in his day to day work. During the exercise, all the capabilities of the different fighter aircraft are used to ensure preparedness for any kind of missions. The pilots have to deal with high levels of air-to-air and ground-to-air threats in large and complex scenarios. Frisian Flag is used to enhance the evaluation and validation of current procedures and tactics and helps to adapt these for conflicts to come in the future.

Missions flown during Frisian Flag include:

• Defensive missions - protection of ground objects - slow mover or high value asset protection - integration with air defense systems

• Offensive missions - preplanned strikes (air interdiction) - gaining air superiority (sweep / escort) - suppression of enemy air defense - dynamic targeting via Forward Air Controllers

• Any combination of the above

The pilots are flying daily. A mission lasts between one and a half to three hours, requires four to five hours for mission planning and ends after a three hour debriefing. Two waves were flown daily, usually 48 aircraft in the morning and 44 aircraft in the afternoon.
would like to thank the Leeuwarden Public Affairs Officer Capt. Marleen Molema and her team for their support.
75th year anniversary of the 349th Squadron of the Belgian Air Force livery
Air Force Unit Aircraft Role


349th Sqn

F-16 MLU x 7

Multi Role


EC03.003 (4) different squadrons of the 3rd wing

Mirage 2000D x 5

Air to Ground


TLG 31

EF2000 x 10

Air to Air


201/301 Sqn

F-16 MLU x 5

Multi Role


No 31 Sqn

Tornado GR4 x 6

Air to Ground


312th, 313th and 322nd TT Sqn

F-16 MLU x 16

Multi Role


122th FS

F-15C x 12

Air to Air



Falcon 20C x 1

Electronic Warfare

Report and photography by Ralf Peter Walter for
with additional images by István Kelecsényi

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Images from LIMA 2017 by
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