Frisian Flag 2017 was a large scale exercise organised by the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
From Mar. 27 to Apr. 7, Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands hosted the tactical aircraft taking part in Ex. Frisian Flag 2017.
The purpose of the drills was preparing the participating units for a modern conflict or crisis support operation by strengthening cooperation between air arms of multiple NATO countries called to undertake joint training missions twice a day.
Whilst Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands, hosted the “tacair”, the supporting tankers (French Air Force C-135FR, Italian Air Force KC-767A, German Air Force A-310MRTT and RNlAF KDC-10) were based at Eindhoven airport in the south, with a NATO E-3 AWACS flying from Geilenkirchen, Germany, and a French AF E-3D from Avord, France.
Special Viper BAF
Portuguese F-16 about to land
The two-week long drills saw the assets split into two teams: the “Red Force”, that included the RAF Tornado GR4s and the French Mirage 2000s, and the “Blue Force” made of the Florida ANG F-15s, the Eurofighter Typhoons, as well as F-16s from Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.
RNlAF F-16 on final
A 31 Sqn Tornado GR4
FAF Mirage 2000
According to the RAF 31 Sqn that posted a short debrief after returning from the drills, missions flown during Frisian Flag included air defense, protection of other aircraft and attacking of ground targets on land and sea in a high threat environment, which included opposing fighter aircraft and ground based Patriot and SA-6 missile batteries.
Four ship about to break for the downwind leg
GAF Typhoon special tail
Photographers at work at Leeuwarden
All the images in this post were taken at Leeuwarden airbase by photographer Estelle Calleja.
The JTACs operate on the French Island of Corsica and work together to practice identifying targets and using that data to call in air strikes from nearby French and American aircraft.
Serpentex differs from other joint military exercises held in the region because it focuses on close air support only: in fact, during the drilsl, the B-52s joined with French fighters to support JTACs from several NATO nations, as well as those from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who are also participating this year.
The presence of the B-52, which is taking part in exercise Serpentex for the very first time, represents a great training opportunity for the JTACs. “Most of them haven’t worked with bombers for these types of missions before. We have a longer duration and a lot wider turn radius than some of the fighters, so they’re going to have to find a new pacing for calling us in for close air support. But I promise that bomber CAS is worth the wait” Maj. Sarah Fortin, the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations, said in a USAF release.
Noteworthy, whilst CAS role has traditionally been filled by various fighter platforms, the BUFF is well-suited for the mission since is able to loiter for extended periods and carrying a wider range of munitions than any other aircraft in the U.S. inventory.
France strikes back with Rafale and Mirage 2000 jets.
According to the French MoD (Ministry of Defense), a dozen French aircraft conducted air strikes against ISIS targets located in Raqqa, Syria on Nov. 15.
The aircraft, Mirage 2000N and Mirage 2000Ds and Rafales, were launched at 19.50 and 20.25 CET, struck an Islamic State command center and a training camp: about 20 targets even though there are reports of more buildings hit by the French bombs.
Raqqa is an ISIS stronghold. It was reported earlier on Sunday Nov. 15 that the U.S. intelligence has intercepted communications between Raqqa and the terrorists in Paris ahead of the deadly attack on Friday Nov. 13.
Even though RAF jets were scrambled on Feb. 18 to intercept two Tu-95MS bombers off the Cornwall coast, the footage was probably filmed on Jan. 29, when two Bears, accompanied by Mig-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors, were refueled twice by Il-78 Midas aerial refuelers and were intercepted and escorted by RAF Typhoons, Norwegian F-16s and French Mirage 2000s at various stages of their trip.
Indeed, the video briefly shows also an armed French Mirage shadowing the Russian Bear.
Armée de l’air celebrated the 50th anniversary of the FAS (forces aériennes stratégiques) with three special colored planes.
On Oct. 3, with a ceremony held at Istres airbase, the French Air Force celebrated 50 years of French deterrence by the Forces Aériennes Strategiques which are responsible for Paris’s nuclear weapons.
The first nuclear alert took place on Oct. 8, 1964 with a Dassault Mirage IV, armed with AN-11 nuclear bombs, supported by a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker of the so-called Force de Frappe (French for Strike Force).
French assets of the FAS have been on continouos alert since then, an achievement marked with three special colors: a Rafale, a Mirage 2000N and a C-135FR.
Two are the nuclear squadrons of the French Air Force, each consisting of 20 aircraft: EC (Escadron de chasse) 1/91 Gascogne at Saint-Dizier equipped with the Rafale B, and EC 2/4 Lafayette at Istres equipped with the Mirage 2000N.