A devaluated, but still interesting Frisian Flag

On forehand, the 2008 edition of the yearly Frisian Flag exercise looked very promising. Not only F-15 Eagles from the USAF were expected, but on the list were also Spanish EF-18s and Finnish Hornets. But not long before the start of Frisian Flag, the Americans cancelled their participation due to ‘operational reasons’ and the Spanish EF-18s chose to participate in exercise Spring Flag at Decimomannu Airbase on Sardinia. And as far as the Finnish Air Force is concerned, it was told that they cancelled their presence because the Dutch Air Force would not attend the largest Finnish exercise ever, called ADEX that would be held one month later on Kuopio/Rissala Air base in the North of Finland.

The participants
Frisian Flag started on 31 March and lasted until 11 April 2008 and was held under extremely good weather conditions. After the cancellation of the Finnish, Spanish and US Air Force there were only four air forces present with their fighters. Of course, the Royal Netherlands Air Force participated with twelve F-16s from Volkel Air Base and Leeuwarden Airbase. The Belgian Air Force came with seven different F-16s from Florennes Air Base. The German Air Force send eight F-4F Phantoms from Wittmund Air Base. And the French Air Force participated with five Rafale B/Cs from St. Dizier Air Base. It was the first ever appearance of the Dassault Rafale at Frisian Flag. The Royal Norwegian Air Force took care of the electronic jamming during the exercise with a Falcon 20 from Rygge Air Base.

New is not always better
During the exercise the brand-new Rafales suffered lots of problems, making it necessary that French Air Force Alpha Jets flew in to bring spare parts on multiple occasions. And that was not the only disappointment for the French Air Force. During the first week, a German F-4F had no problems with a Rafale in an air-to-air mock combat. The Germans rubbed salt in the French wounds to paint “Rafale Eater” on the engine intake plate of F-4F 37+85.