Photos From Exercise Frisian Flag

by Nigel Howarth
Apr 05, 2017

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

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