Photos From Exercise Frisian Flag


Currently taking place over the Northern skies of the Netherlands is an annual exercise called Frisian Flag. Squadrons of aircraft from across NATO are based here for two weeks, and I joined the hundreds of other photographers outside the base to record the event.

An F-16A of 323 sqn from the home nation. The Netherlands provided the most aircraft for the exercise, with numerous Leeuwarden-based F-16s taking part.

The French Air Force sent four Mirage 2000Ds from EC.3 based in Nancy.

The Royal AIr Force provided six Tornado GR4s, including this 1982-vintage aircraft.

The German Air Force sent 10 Eurofighters from JG-31. Even that was not the largest visiting contingent.

Portugal was represented by five F-16As from their original batch of new-build aircraft. Portugal later received another batch of former USAF F-16s.

Prior to landing, all aircraft performed a circuit overhead, allowing for some nice formation shots. Here a pair of German Eurofighters start their turn downwind.

The US Air Force sent 12 F-15C Eagles drawn from the Florida and Louisiana ANGs. Here one of the New Orleans-based Eagles shows off some special tail markings.

Four more locally-based KLu F-16As pass overhead before landing.

One of the many Florida ANG Eagles about to land, a long way from home in Jacksonville.

Belgium sent seven F-16s including this specially marked one celebrating 75 years of 349 squadron. 349 formed in Britain in 1942 during World War II, originally flying Spitfires.

One of the JG-31 Eurofighters proudly displays an image of Oswald Boelcke on its fin.

Four more ANG F-15C begin their break-to-land sequence.

Often seen on exercises providing targets are the Falcon 20s of Cobham, based in the UK.

Several hundred people from all over the continent turn up each day and pitch up in various fields to photograph all the flying participants. It's one of the few countries in the world which is tolerant enough to allow this, and everyone behaves, meaning everyone leaves happy.

Although a little difficult to see, this F-16 pilot waves to the masses of photographers as he passes by.

Exercise Frisian Flag is taking a break for two years but should be back in 2020.

All photos by Nigel Howarth

Discuss this Blog Entry 32

on Apr 5, 2017

Again Aviation Week is calling attention to NATO activities. A noble effort to inform folks about reality or . . . ?

This Article is Fake News. Our Leader has proclaimed NATO obsolete. A gang of leaches sucking the blood of credulous America.* NATO nations cannot be engaged in such joint exercises. Thus an article showing NATO engaged in joint exercises is just more Lügenpresse.

*The Leader's opinion of individual nations subject to change if Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, or Frauke Petry, wins in upcoming elections.

This satire brought to you by American's Laughing While We Still Can.

on Apr 5, 2017


on Apr 6, 2017

Did you mean Lmaa by any chance :=)) ?

on Apr 6, 2017

Dear Mark, Geert Wilders did not win the elections.
And who do you mean with 'our leader'?
On the subject; Its great to see the differend fighters working together in the Dutch sky.

on Apr 6, 2017

How did Florida and Louisiana ANG F-15s get authorisation to fly to EvilEurope?

on Apr 6, 2017

Poor you...
NATO has enabled US firms to sell billions of dollars of weaponeries in Europe and elsewhere.
US GO HOME and democracy saves Europe !

on Apr 6, 2017

Is this a NY Times blog in disguise? Mark Lincoln seems to have strayed beyond his ken, and this is my first visit here. Right off he leapt out with his eccentric yawp. Get a grip, Mark.

on Apr 8, 2017

Get used to it cs1050, he knows all and worse yet tells all, constantly, every chance he gets.

on Apr 8, 2017

Unfortunately, we get a lot of politics here. Mark's just one of several contestants in that gymkhana. The President's got an amazing lot of power - either to prove them right or prove them wrong. And that's all I have to say.

on Apr 8, 2017

"This Article is Fake News. Our Leader has proclaimed NATO obsolete. A gang of leaches sucking the blood of credulous America."

NATO is full of leaches. Truth. Deal with it.

Dolomite (not verified)
on Apr 6, 2017

No Mark, this article has nothing to do with American lugenpress; is more in line with your former dear Leader ideas that NATO should invade Ukraine to teach Putin a lesson.
Keep dreaming Mark; our Current Leader did not grew up in Indonesia and did not visit all 57 states; just 50.

on Apr 6, 2017

Good morning to all, the ability to express yourself is one of the rights we Americans enjoy, yes we do not agree with our current president a lot ,but if you attack us ,we become United no matter who is in charge, no we are not perfect but that is Democracy for you ,we make mistakes ,we are human. stop insulting everyone here. have a great week you all

on Apr 7, 2017

As democratic nations we should stand together as we did after 9/11.
"The NATO council declared the attacks on the United States were an attack on all NATO nations which satisfied of Article 5 of the NATO charter. "

on Apr 6, 2017

There's something seriously wrong with commenters who look at this post and try to warp it into a discussion of politics.

It's just warplanes, people. Get over your weird tics.

on Apr 6, 2017

I really like the Boelcke decal on the fin of the Luftwaffe Eurofighter, and the F-16's returning with "cordite" smoked gunports are very cool. Watched an excercise in France last year and hearing and seeing the guns was simply brilliant. Great pictures

on Apr 6, 2017

Impressive indeed - just wonder if German WW 1 veteran Boelcke ever thought something like this could happen? Remember, he goes back to the "Rag and Wire Bi and Tri-Planes" of its times. - Great pictures - wished I could have seen it in real time.

on Apr 6, 2017

Hermann Goering was quite the Red Baron wannabe in the Great War, as well.

on Apr 6, 2017

Wow, 50 airplanes and two sorties a day.
Let's hope they don't break a sweat.

on Apr 6, 2017

Holland lacks the airspace to do any more than that.

on Apr 6, 2017

Wow, take the eurofighters out of there and you have a vintage fighter airshow-why didn't the french send something newer than a Mirage 2000? Good thing NATO will never have to face a genuine air threat, they might lose some of these museum pieces. The Boelcke graphic made me wonder if there will ever be another ace, kind of think those days are over for good.

on Apr 6, 2017

Sums it up. I note that the UK sent a couple of Cobham's finest. Part of our privatised defence force of the future?

on Apr 6, 2017

I hope so for many more years as it keeps me employed! G-FRAL is 49 years old, so probably the oldest aircraft flying there.

on Apr 7, 2017

The third "NATO doing something" article in recent weeks finally got some responses. Good.

NATO is not just a bunch of "them" leaching off of the USA. It never has been.

In fact during it's long existence NATO has only come to the mutual defense of one nation. That member nation is the USA.

NATO, that "obsolete" organization, so despised by Vladimir Vladimirovich and The Leader of the United States, has in fact engaged in operations in support of the USA in Afghanistan and in the Middle East for almost two decades.

I am very encouraged that Aviation Week in recent weeks has been publishing articles concerning NATO operations which support the United States in pursuit of mutual objectives.

The problem of the US press is not that it is "lügenpresse." Rather it is simply not aware, and does not cover anything that is not discussed by talking heads talking to each other. Or handed out in easily regurgitated press releases.

That may be why The Leader may make such idiotic statements about NATO and be believed by so many gullible people who wish to believe America is victimized by the world.

NATO remains a very successful alliance which thwarted the ambitions of Joe Stalin as it thwarts the ambitions of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin today.

There is a reason why Sputnik news and rt endlessly rail against NATO exercises. The Leader's railing against NATO may not be an echo of Putin's objections and objectives; but they are a threat to an organization established by the USA to serve our and European mutual defense needs.

Russia is engaged in open diplomatic and cyber war against NATO, the EU, and the USA.

Vladimir, so well and often praised by The Leader, is not happy with The Leader this morning.

There is a whole world going on out there which is not on Weasel News or the Constantly Nattering Network.

P.S. Breitbart, the propaganda arm of the Trump administration, informs us that the US launched 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian air field while Sputnik, the propaganda arm of Vlad Putin, says only 23 arrived. Who to believe?

I suspect we will get more reliable data from AvLeak soon.

on Apr 7, 2017

On 59/23. You realize those two statements are not incompatible?
On the other hand Putin is the guy that can outplay professional hockey players.

on Apr 8, 2017

Sorry Mark the facts put to lie your partisan cheerleading bombast. European NATO countries have never has come close to pulling their weight and it's getting worse. The numbers don't lie.

on Apr 8, 2017

Mark Lincoln: "P.S. Breitbart, the propaganda arm of the Trump administration, informs us that the US launched 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian air field while Sputnik, the propaganda arm of Vlad Putin, says only 23 arrived. Who to believe?"

Cruise missiles falling down short of their targets isn't news. You ought to know that. But Sputnik regularly tells us all about space aliens in Siberia and how democratic Russia is under Putin. My guess is, if you line the writers of those articles up, the Russian guy's nose sticks out further.

on Apr 7, 2017

I would just like to point out that this was not a political article, and had no sub-plot. It was simply me sharing what I thought was a nice set of photos. Having been an aircraft photographer for 35 years, the opportunities to see so many military aircraft all at once are few and far between. So please take it for what it was - a Brit enjoying a day out in a fellow friendly country.

on Apr 7, 2017

My apologies if I added to the problem.
Thank you and keep up the good work.

on Apr 8, 2017

Thank you for sharing, Nigel. It's unfortunate some of us can't respond to an article here other than to show their anger at someone who isn't very involved in what the article's about. Both sides bring either "Resistance" or "Sore Winner Syndrome" into everything they say here.

As a proud neighbor of the "Bayou Militia" (the 159th Fighter Wing, Louisiana Air National Guard) I appreciate the pictures of those F-15Cs, which guard the skies of our country, and now and then are called out to investigate errant aircraft, just in case someone wants another try at 9/11.

on Apr 10, 2017

Thanks for that, Nigel. As an aviation enthusiast, and photograph collector, I would have appreciated even more if each photo could link to an higher resolution version, as it happens for some pictures in other AW&ST online articles.
Thank you.

on Apr 8, 2017

I am disappointed that so many of the Aviation Week commenters cannot resist injecting politics into articles which have nothing to do with politics. Surely there are other forums where one can pontificate on the immorality of building/selling weapons of war or criticizing political leaders.

Thank you, Nigel, for bringing your photos to those of us who are not in a position to readily make it to airshows or even museums of flight. Age and medical issues make travel difficult.

on Apr 21, 2017

Thanks for sharing images of different countries Air force (Aircraft). Wonderful photography!

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