The Swiss Air Force participates for the first time
From Monday 1 April to Friday 12 April 2019, the annual Frisian Flag international fighter exercise took place at Leeuwarden Air Base, the Netherlands. Fighter pilots from different countries practiced complex missions in an international context for two weeks. Twice a day, approximately 50 aircraft flew a mission.
Participating air forces and aircraft
In addition to the Royal Dutch Air Force with their F-16’s, five coalition partners participated in Frisian Flag: The French Air Force with their Mirage 2000D aircraft from Nancy AB, Germany with Eurofighters from Nörvenich AB, newcomer Switzerland with F-18’s from Meiringen AB, Poland with F-16’s from Poznan-Krzesiny AB and as icing on the cake 8 USAF F-16C’s from the Minnesota Air National Guard from Duluth.
The Portuguese F-16’s were withdrawn shortly before the start of the exercise. The Swiss already left home on Tuesday in the second week for domestic obligations.
Suppression of Enemy Air Defences
The “Bulldogs” from Minnesota are specialized in suppressing and eliminating enemy anti-aircraft fire and were the first SEAD unit to participate in Frisian Flag. The USAF specifically sent this squadron to Leeuwarden for the exercise. A specialized SEAD platform has never participated in the exercise before and that was exactly the reason they participated this year. The organization was very enthusiastic about the participation of the Bulldogs.”
Overtime for “New Milligen”
For the air traffic controllers it is also quit an operation to send 50 fighters from 6 different nationalities into the air for a fight above the North Sea twice a day. The Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen (AOCS NM) is responsible for “controlling” the air combat and the fighter aircraft talking to the tank aircraft. During Frisian Flag they needed about 20 men and women every day. For that reason controllers from staff positions join in to get the work done.
“New Milligen” controls the combat- and tank aircraft in week 1 in the both waves. In week 2 they do only the tank aircraft and they are back up for the NATO AWACS who leads the fight from the air .