Double Dutch Magazine

Frisian Flag 1999

Written by Bob den Engelsman and Martin van den Hurk/DMAPS

For the first time Frisian Flag was held at Fightertown Leeuwarden, situated in the Northern part of Holland. The exercise was held from the 27th of September until the 8th of October 1999. Organized by 323Sqn, one of the resident Squadrons at Leeuwarden AB, the participating aircraft operated from Leeuwarden AB and three other bases, being Schleswig-Jagel AB in Germany, Leeming AB and Lakenheath AB both in the United Kingdom. In many ways a unique exerciseÖ..

In the past Leeuwarden AB organized national exercises using the Air defense and Ground Based Air Defense units (GBAD) nation wide. After a mission the results were debriefed with all participants. In 1992 this resulted in exercise DIATIT, the first three letters coming from the word DIANA, which is the nickname of the 323TACTESS the organizing unit, the last three letters coming from Tactical Integrated Training. Integrated meaning that Navy, Army and Air Force are combined in a major exercise. As of 1993 until 1996 an AWACS was added to the scenario, which resulted in exercise DIAWACS. The exercises main objective being the protection of the AWACS. The involvement of an AWACS was postponed in 1997 and 1998 due to other commitments of the AWACS aircraft. The exercise was renamed again to DIATIT for these two years. Interest was shown from abroad, from other NATO members, who wanted to participate in this exercise (DIATIT). The set goals were met in exercise DIATIT, which means that similar exercises held abroad like Red Flag in the United Sates and Maple Flag in Canada could be compared with this exercise. The big difference being that the costs are significantly lower! This finally resulted in renaming the exercise again, this time into Frisian Flag. In this context that the word Frisian comes from the Province Friesland in which Leeuwarden AB is situated and Flag for the comparison with similar exercises held in Canada and the United Sates of America.

Why another exercise similar to Red Flag, Green Flag or Maple Flag? The answer is easy; the Kosovo crisis has shown once more that large scale combined packages (a package being a formation of aircraft from several NATO members) directed to a target have the best result in effectiveness. Pilots that have flown missions over Kosovo are now sharing their experience with those pilots whom do not have this experience. This way tactics are learned by the younger pilots and those who already have experience are seeking better tactics.

Another objective is to integrate Navy, Airforce and GBAD effectively in a large-scale multi-national scenario and train the participants in Offensive and Defensive Counter Air roles. It is also part of the TACTESS-task of the 323Sqn and in this way the RNLAF can promote itself between other air forces by organizing a low-budget flag exercise.

Mission Leads


The exercise is monitored by the Staff for the duration of the exercise. Scenarioís are made by this staff for each individual day with different kinds of set-up. Due to the fact that all participants have multi-role assets, the participants are used differently each day. This means that they can be used for Air Defense, Ground Attack or Electronic Counter Measures.


Each day another Frisian Flag supervisor is appointed, he is the leader of the operation of that particular day. Including the management and providing guidance for the Blue and Red AIR participants.

*Blue mission monitor;

Blue air package are those whom receive their training, they will discuss their tactics before a mission, fly their mission and debrief their mission during that day. After full analysis decisions are made if the used tactics were sufficient or need to be adjusted.

*Red mission monitor;

This package acts as a training aid in providing simulated aircraft types like the MiG-23, MiG-29, Su-27 or the Su-24M and operates in a scenario that was often seen during crisis like the Gulf War, Kosovo- and Serbia crisis.

*OCA-Leads (Offensive Counter Air-Leads);

A participant of the exercise that gets the responsibility of a package within the Blue air mission. He will get a package of 20 aircraft with which he has to fulfill his task. There are two OCA leads during one mission/day, and after debriefing, the best tactics of the two leads are being put together from which all participants can learn their lessons.

*DCA-Leads (Defensive Counter Air-Leads);

leader of 20 aircraft responsible for providing the training aid regarding the Red Air mission.

During the exercise all participants have to fulfill Blue air and Red air missions. The participants fly 60% Blue air missions (receiving the training) and 40% Red air missions (providing the training). Types of missions that are flown are: OCA. DCA. OFF-TASMO (attacking sea-assets) and CAS (close Air support). Next to these prime missions each day a so called shadow wave will be exercised during the afternoon. This shadow wave gives young inexperienced pilots the possibility to train in small numbers (2 against 2 or 4 against 4) flying DACT (dissimilar Air Combat Training) and HVAA (High Value Assets Attack) and HVAD (high Value Assets Defense) missions. In this way they can increase their experience very quickly and in the later stages of the exercise can participate in the larger scenarioís and therefore also become sooner available for deployment in conflict areas.

Participants of Frisian Flag 1999

Unit Home base

* RNLAF with 12 F-16AM 322/323Sqn Leeuwarden AB

6 F-16A 312Sqn Volkel AB

1 KDC-10A 334Sqn (operating from Eindhoven AB)

* USAFE with 6 F-16C 23FS Spangdahlem AB

8 F-15C 493FS (operating from Lakenheath AB)

8 F-15E 492/494FS (operating from Lakenheath)

2 KC-135R 351ARS (operating from Mildenhall AB)

* RAF with 6 Tornado F3 111Sqn Leuchars AB

4 Tornado F3 11Sqn (operating from Leeming AB)

1 VC-10 (operating from Brize Norton AB)

1 E-3D 8Sqn (operating from Waddington AB)

* German Navy 4 Tornado MFG2 Eggebeck AB

4 Tornado MFG2 (operating from Eggebeck AB)

* German AF 4 F-4F/ICE JG71/72 Wittmundhaven/Hopsten AB

* USN 2 F-14B+ VF-102 Oceana/USS JFK

2 F-18C VF-82

2 F-18C VF-86

2 F-18C VMFA-251

2 EA-6B VAQ-137

* NATO 1 E-3A NAEWF Geilenkirchen AB

* RNLAF : Patriot, 4x Hawk, 6x Flycatcher, AAA-army and Stinger.

* German Navy : 2-3 Frigates

* RNL Navy : 2-4 Frigates

The exercise is controlled by a deployment of the CRC (Control and Reporting Center) "bandbox" from Nieuw Millingen which deployed a remote GCI (ground controlled intercept) radar was using a new system which involves a glass fiber link to the radar station. At Leeuwarden AB there are 4 monitors available for the control. These monitors are linked to a boxlight were the mission can be followed in real time, All the data is also recorded so it can be replayed and used in the debriefing.

As an example we will take the Frisian-Flag mission of Wednesday 6th of October 1999. The task of the Offensive Counter Air (OCA) package is to destroy 4 trucks placed in open field at Cornfield Range which is situated at one of the islands of Holland (Vlieland). The German Navy frigate FGS Brandenburg has to be destroyed (C-kill/catastrophic kill) as well as the Hawk and Patriot sites situated in the Marnewaard (close to Leeuwarden AB) have to suffer a F-kill (firepower kill). In real time war, to take out a ship like the FGS Brandenburg and to fulfil the mission planned for today, would take up to 120 aircraft. For this mission this task lies with the OCA package, which consists of 4xTornado F3ís, 6xF-18C, 4xF-16C, 1xEA-6B (the second aircraft available for that mission broke down during its pre-flight check), 8xF-15E (operating out of RAF Lakenheath), 4xTornado F3"s (operating from RAF Leeming), 1xKDC-10A, 1xVC-10, 2xKC-135R, 8xTornado (4 of them operating from Eggebeck AB) 6xF-16A and 6xF-16AM.

FAOR1 (Fighter Area of Responsibility) at the north sea ACMI (air combat maneuvering instrumentation) range is being defended by 8xF-15Cís operating from RAF Lakenheath acting as training aid and simulating Flankers, FAOR 2 (TRA or Temporary reserved airspace) is defended by 8XF-16AM and 2xF-14B+ simulating Flankers and Fulcrums. (MiG-29ís from the German AF were foreseen at first, but due to the very limited flying time this aircraft has,(only 30 minutes in full combat) the type was withdrawn from the exercise). The tomcats could only simulate MiG29ís and not the SU-27 because the F14 doesnít have the right missile data in itís database.

After assessment of the different kind of tactics used during the exercise, certain tactics might end up being evaluated (and again being practiced) at the Tactical Leadership Program at Florennes AB, Belgium. In a final stage a tactic used at this Frisian Flag exercise may end up in manual 80-6, which sets the standard in NATO tactics.

Frisian Flag 2000

From the 4th until the 15th of September 2000, the next Frisian Flag exercises is planned. For Frisian Flag 1999 interest was shown from non-NATO countries like Finland and Switzerland. Several officers from Finland visited the FF exercise for a brief period to familiarize themselves. This in order to come to a final decision to participate in next years FF exercise. As might be expected, the new NATO members, and Poland in particular, were very interested as well. For them this exercise, unlike for instance Red Flag or similar, is affordable, but due to the big difference in standard it is not yet possible for them to participate in the near future. Separate upgrade programs are set up by the 323TACTESS in order to lift the flying forces of these new NATO members to an equal level/NATO standard. Another difference from this years edition of Frisian Flag, is that all participating aircraft will operate from Leeuwarden AB. As mentioned before, several aircraft were operating from their home bases. This was due to lack of ramp space at Leeuwarden AB. This will mean less number of aircraft attending the FF exercise in this way; not 8 F-15C from RAF Lakenheath, but 4 F-15C operating from Leeuwarden AB. The organizers, 323 TACTESS, would like to have more different assets for their next Frisian Flag exercise, 4 aircraft each from a certain type. This in order to get more out of the dissimilar air combat tactics training.


As mentioned by the attending POCís from each participating country at Frisian Flag99, all the set goals by the 323TACTESS were met and the expectations for the attending air crew did come out. In particular the fact that the availability of the offered air space in regard to the exercise was unique.

Commander Mark Wralstad of VF-102 (F-14B+) pointed out that it is in the best interest of the USN that these kind of exercises are held and is what the USN needs to keep up the skills. He mentioned the flying training missions from their homebase NAS Oceana in Virginia, where there are not enough radar providing GCI for their training over water. He mentioned that for some of the newer pilots participating in the exercise it was the first time that they worked with ground based GCI. Squadron Leader Hoffington of 111Sqn concurred in his colleagues view. In the United Kingdom the GCI systems are still in massive bunkers, so as well for them being debriefed with the GCI crew does not happen on a day to day bases.

The authors would like to thank: Maj. Hans Smedema (Voorlichting), Capt. Maurice "Skunk" Schonk and Capt. Rob Strating(exercise Coordinator)

Explanation of the map:

The exercise takes place in the airspace which stretches from the English east-coast to the German coast.

ESSO/SHELL: Refueling tracks

FAOR1/FAOR2: are the by red air defended zones which have to be attacked by

blue air

the 3 green triangles are (clockwise from the left) Cornfield range, Marnerwaard and Oldenbroek. At the Cornfield range on the island Vlieland there is a possibility to use life ordnance up to 500 Lbs, during the exercise the island will be defended by frigates. At the Marnerward and Oldenbroek there is the possibility to use FAC (forward air controllers) to perform CAS and ground attack scenarioís

After take off the aircraft proceed to the shell tank area, then start their mission through FAOR1, refuel at ESSO, transit to the corridor to the north of FAOR2 and have their next possibility to exercise their tactics. After which there is the possibility to do the ground attack.