On Thursday April 17th, a Media Day was organized by the Public Relations Office of Leeuwarden airbase. The project officer, Captain Ralph (callsign "RAPER") of 323 squadron TACTESS (TACtical Training, Evaluation and Standardisation Squadron), briefed about the exercise.
Frisian Flag 2009 is the largest air-exercise in the Netherlands, besides F-16's of the Dutch Air Force ('Koninklijke Luchtmacht') the Dutch Army ('Koninklijke Landmacht') Commando forces participated next to a vessel of the Dutch Navy ('Koninklijke Marine'), the “H.M. Evertsen”. The United States Air Force Europe supplied the F-15 Eagle in the air-defense role; the Norwegian Air force supplied a Falcon 20 for electronic warfare. A civil German Learjet was hired for electronic jamming. Air-to-Air refueling was delivered by a KDC-10 of the Dutch Air Force and a KC-135 of the United States Air Force Europe. Due to budget-cuts some participants cancelled their participation to this exercise; Polish Air Force F-16C/D’s would have made their debut in the Netherlands but they were cancelled too.
Dutch and German air-traffic controllers cooperated to create one large airspace above the North Sea by combining Dutch and German airspace. LINK16 was used extensively between the aircraft and the ground stations. The NDMC (National Datalink Managent Cel) ,a common unit of the Dutch land-, air- en seaforce coordinated the LINK16 datastreams. On 2 locations, the Dutch Air Force set up Patriot SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missile) missile sites; 1 site on the Leeuwarden Airbase and 1 site on the island of Vlieland, north of Leeuwarden. These Patriots would play a defensive role during the first week of the exercise, by guaranteeing as safe airspace for the attacking forces. During the second week, the Patriots would try to knock down the attacking forces in an offensive role. During the second week of the exercise, a Dutch Fokker-50 transport aircraft played the role of ‘slow-mover’.
During the 2 week exercise, all participants would train for 'offensive and defensive tasks in realistic warfare scenarios'. With a focus on 'tactical decisions by the pilots' and on 'the integration of all available systems'.
Frisian Flag 2009 is an exercise 'by pilots, for pilots, there are no far away command centers (Combined Air Operations Center or CAOC) that define the missions. All missions are created and planned by the pilots, so they can use their operational experience to define realistic exercise missions. During the Media Day, one of the participating F-15’s (callsign ‘RAMBO1’) suffered from an engine problem, whereby it cancelled it’s mission and returned to the Leeuwarden airbase.
Thanks to PRO Leeuwarden for the Media Day
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