• Учения Frisian Flag и EART

    Frisian Flag and the EART

    The Operation Atlantic Resolve took place parallel to the exercise Frisian Flag. Several units from the United States are stationed in Europe during this intensive operation. The United States and its European partners are showing the strength of the NATO members to Russia which is seen as the aggressor in Ukraine crisis. During the exercise Frisian Flag, many air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios are practiced by units of the Dutch Air Force and its partners in two weeks’ time. One of the most prominent participants in this year's edition of the exercise are the Americans who fly along with twelve Air National Guard F-15 Eagles. In the coming years, a lot will change for the European tanker units. A joint tanker fleet will be established with the European partners in the near future. The need for such a fleet became clear during the European Air Refuelling Training. This training is held for the second time this year held at the Dutch Eindhoven Air Base.

    Operation Atlantic Resolve

    Operation Atlantic Resolve is the West's response to the actions in Ukraine where the Russians are accused of supporting the pro-Russian rebels who want to separate from the Ukraine. All American units which have been moved to Europe are additionally sent in the framework of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Americans want to show their solidarity with Europe in this way when it comes to their NATO obligations. During this operation the United States is giving a show of force to the Russian threat by keeping many military exercises in cooperation with the European partners. Many of these exercises are taking place in the former Eastern Bloc in the Eastern part of Europe. The operation started in the Baltic States and Poland, as a support to these countries after threatening language from Russia. During Atlantic Resolve, there are many United States Air Force units stationed in Europe. In March, the first aircraft arrived in Europe. Twelve A-10 Thunderbolts from the 354th Fighter Squadron from Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona arrived at the American airbase Spangdahlem in Germany. This unit has been deployed at Lakenheath in England, at Powidz in Poland and is currently deployed at Campia Turzii in Romania. At the beginning of April twelve F-15s from the 159th Fighter Wing of the Louisiana Air National Guard were temporarily stationed at Graf Ignatievo in Bulgaria. The expectation is that more F-15 units and A-10 units will come over for similar exercises to Europe. How long the participation of American units in Europe will last is depending on the political situation in Europe and the political relations with Russia.

    American units are also deployed in the Netherlands as a result of Operation Atlantic Resolve. On April 1 and 2 twelve F-15C/D Eagles arrived at the Dutch Leeuwarden Air Base. The units involved in this operation are the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard and the 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard. The deployment at Leeuwarden is led by the unit from Florida. Both units flew six F-15s to Leeuwarden. In the last two weeks of April, the units will participate in the exercise Frisian Flag which is held annually at Leeuwarden. The Florida Air National Guard (ANG) is the air force militia of the US state of Florida. The ANG is in the United States a militia which is part of the USAF. As part of the Total Force concept, the Florida Air National Guard units are considered as part of the Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the United States Air Force. The Florida ANG units are trained and equipped with aircraft by the United States Air Force.

    International Exercise Frisian Flag 2015

    The annual exercise Frisian Flag was launched on April 13 and lasts until April 24th. The purpose of Frisian Flag is to train pilots on international cooperation. Through this kind of international air force exercises pilots and soldiers are allowed to work together during difficult crisis situations. Pilots were already active in areas such as Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq and faced with a large coalition. Exercises like Frisian Flag are essential to carry out the international procedures as well as possible show of force. The fighter planes fly daily missions from Leeuwarden Air Base to practice a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios. The practice areas extend over the airspace of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. There are some areas in the Dutch airspace which are allocated for the exercise. These areas are the TRA01 until 10. These areas are located above the North Sea and there is a maximum altitude of FL550 (16,8km). During the exercise, no other aircraft are allowed in the area by the Dutch traffic control. The participants will train at the Cornfield Range (Vlieland) and Marnewaard (northwest of Groningen). The practice area around the Marnewaard is used for various army actions involving close air support. Participating aircraft provide support to units of the army and navy. During the exercise collaboration with so-called Forward Air Controllers from the Dutch Army takes place. Soldiers will give instructions by radio to the pilots about the precise location of the targets. This cooperation requires close communication and utmost concentration of the pilots.

    Sixty fighters from Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United States will participate in this exercise. The exercise will be coordinated by an E-3 Sentry of the NATO from the German airbase Geilenkirchen. Eindhoven Air Base will support the exercise with four tankers from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France. The Germans joined the exercise with ten EF2000 Eurofighters from TLG-31 at Nörvenich. The Spanish fly along with six EF-18 Hornets from Ala 12 from Torrejón near Madrid. The Polish Air Force will participate with six F-16s from Poznan. The Finnish Air Force is flying during this edition of Frisian Flag with six F-18s of all Finnish units. The Dutch itself are flying along with eight F-16s from the airfields Volkel and Leeuwarden. The no 322 Squadron at Leeuwarden Air Base organizes the exercise. The most notable participants this year are the American F-15s of the Florida Air National Guard and the Oregon Air National Guard. The American F-15s of the ANG are nowadays a rare appearance in Europe. The American units are temporarily stationed in Europe as a result of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The two hundred crew members and twelve F-15Cs are of the 125th Fighter Wing from Jacksonville, Florida and the 142nd Fighter Wing from Portland, Oregon. The aircraft crossed the Atlantic Ocean to participate in this annual major international exercise. In this period there are several American units in Europe to support this massive operation.

    The 159th Fighter Squadron (159th FS) is part of the 125th Fighter Wing (125th FW) and is nowadays stationed at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida. In addition to this base, the unit has a continuous QRA detachment at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. When the unit is activated for federal support in the United States Air Force, the 125th FW becomes part of the Air Combat Command (ACC). The unit is an element of the ACC within 1st Air Force. At this moment, the 159th FS is equipped with the American McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. The 159th FS flies only since 2006 with the F-15C/D Eagle variant. It is normal in the United States that the ANG units operate with the oldest aircraft in the air force. The F-15s of the unit can be identified by the blue lightning bolt on the tail of the aircraft. The F-15s have a blue band on the tail with a thin white border around it. The text Florida is written on the tail band on the outer side of the vertical tail and on the inside it is the text 125th FW written. The main task of the unit is the aerial defense of the southern United States.

    The 123rd Fighter Squadron (123d FS) and is a unit of the Oregon Air National Guard and is part of the 142nd Fighter Wing (142nd FW) which is stationed at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. The 123rd FS is equipped with the McDonnell Douglas F-15C/D Eagle. The squadron is a derivative of the organization of the 123rd Observation Squadron, which was established on July 30, 1940. The squadron is one of the original 29 National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard which were formed during the Second World War. The F-15s of the 123rd FS can be identified by the image of the Hawk with the Oregon flag in its claws on the vertical tail of the aircraft. The aircraft all have a red band on the tail with a thin black border. On the outside of the vertical tail is the text Redhawks visible and on the inner side of the tails is the text Portland visible. The name Redhawks is the nickname of the 123rd FS. The main task of the squadron is defending US airspace on the west coast of the country. The F-15 Eagle is an aircraft which is very well suited to perform these tasks.

    European Air Refueling Training 2015

    In the period from April 13 until April 24, 2015, the European Defense Agency (EDA) organized for the second time the European Air Refuelling Training. The training is hosted by the European Air Transport Command (EATC) based at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands. During the two weeks the participants of the EART will by uniquely trained in a multinational framework. Crews should jointly plan and execute tanker missions during the EART. To provide a realistic training opportunity for the crews of the tankers, the EART is held in parallel to the exercise Frisian Flag at Leeuwarden Air Base. The tanker crews can practice in this way their air to air refuelling skills in a real combat environment which makes the training very realistic. Currently the EART is the only exercise of its kind which is held structurally in Europe. The first edition of the EART was held in 2014 at Eindhoven Air Base. Also that edition of the EART exercise was held in parallel to the exercise Frisian Flag. The training proved to be very effective for the crews of the tankers and therefore a follow-up of the EART was organized this year. During the EART there are four active participants with a tanker at Eindhoven Air Base. The Germans fly with an Airbus A310MRTT from the German airbase Koln-Bonn. The French join the EART with a C-135FR Stratotanker from the French airbase Istres-Le-Tube. In the second week of the EART an Italian Boeing KC-767 will fly along with exercise. This plane is based at the Italian airbase Pratica di Mare. Finally, the Dutch air force participated in the EART with a KDC-10 from Eindhoven Air Base.

    The major goal of the EART is to improve the inter-operability among the tanker crews in Europe. Currently there is a shortage of an intense collaboration between the European partners when it comes to air to air refueling (AAR). It is intended that the crews of the tankers during EART exchange knowledge with each other. During the EART training the difficulty of the exercise is slowly increased during the period of two weeks. The scenarios start with several single-ship missions and will be extended to complete tankers cells supporting COMAO missions. During this last scenario, the EART will be mixed up with the exercise Frisian Flag which currently takes place at Leeuwarden Air Base. These exercises are beside the tanker crews also very educational for the fighter pilots which participate in Frisian Flag. Various aspects will be practiced during the EART. Some of these aspects are performing and standardizing rendezvous procedures, Tactical Air Refuelling and Cell procedures like Link16, EMCON 3 Bailout procedures and Search And Rescue (SAR), Combined planning processes, Implementation of Eindhoven Air Base as a forward operating tanker AAR cell and deliver support to Frisian Flag 2015 in all aspects of AAR. All these aspects of the exercise together are a major workload for the tanker crews. The tankers participating in the EART will fly one or two missions per day. The number of missions which will be flown is depending on the amount of Frisian Flag fighters which want to make use of the tanker.

    Refueling of aircraft in the air is an essential link in the chain to deliver structural airpower anywhere in the world. These techniques ensure that airpower can be delivered more efficiently and is therefore indispensable in the modern military aviation. AAR is not only important for operations with combat aircraft, but is important for the entire line of military air operations. Despite this importance of AAR, the European air forces have in recent years been structurally dependent on the American tanker capabilities. Some examples are the actions in Kosovo in 1999 and the action over Libya in 2011. Today, the European air forces have collectively only 40 tankers at their disposal. This is just a small amount compared with the United States which has more than 500 tankers in use. The European air forces are clearly not well prepared when it comes to tanker capacity. The shortage of dedicated and specific training for the European tanker units is also a recognized problem in Europe. The EART is one of the first exercises of its kind to meet these training needs. In addition to practicing scenarios are during the training also the operational procedures of the international crews better coordinated. They learn from each other and each other's procedures and if there are better procedures than the existing ones, they will be adapted. In this way, the tanker units are able to work together in the future and are able to take over each’s work over if needed. International cooperation is also promoted by certifying tanker crews by the EDA. The tankers can be used in a collective Poole which is better; the efficiency of the tank operations is highly improved by this.

    AAR was seen by the board of the EDA as one of the eleven Pooling & Sharing priorities in November 2011. During a regular board meeting in March 2012, it was agreed by several ministers of the European countries that AAR joint operations should be developed in the future. The ministers agreed that the ridges AAR capacities in Europe should be developed with a high priority. The joint AAR capacity must be available in the future for all CSDP and NATO operations and all related operations around. In response to this need, the EDA has launched a global approach for increasing the AAR capacity in Europe. There will be a European tanker command in the future which is in terms of model the same as the EATC. The defense ministers of Belgium, France, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Norway have agreed that a joint tanker fleet will be established in the future. The initiative is led by the Netherlands and aims to lift the European AAR capability to a higher level. Together probably a fleet of strategic multi-role tanker and transport (MRTT) aircraft will be purchased in the future. The goal is to have this fleet operational in 2020. This MRTT fleet will probably be stationed at four locations in Europe of which Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands is one to of these locations. Which other airfields will be used is not yet clear, it will probably be in Spain, Poland and Norway.

    Alex van Noye
    May 2015
    OKA, An-Z, sparrow and 3 others like this.
    Комментарии 2 Комментарии
    1. Аватар для Д.Срибный
      Д.Срибный -
      Алекс, спасибо за репортаж! Как всегда отличные фотографии!
      А что там делал украинский Ан-12?
    1. Аватар для An-Z
      An-Z -
      Да, интересный репортажи и великолепные фото. Надо будет приехать как нибудь, поглядеть самому на это))