The Polish Air Force’s F-16 fighters are currently involved in the Frisian Flag exercise which takes place in the Netherlands. The operation involves around 60 military planes from six countries, including the USA and Germany. Aerial refuelling training is being realized at the same time.
The exercise involves the Polish F-16C/D Block 52+ and the Dutch F-16AM/BM jets, the Finnish and the Spanish F/A-18 Hornets, the German Eurofighters and the USAF’s F-15C’s. The latter ones, belonging to the US National Guard, are a part of the Theater Security Package, currently deployed in Europe.
Frisian Flag is an annual, multinational exercise which, in its basic assumption, is to provide air combat training in a complex environment, including conditions that may occur in a high intensity conflict.
During the operation, the pilots will also cooperate with the land and naval forces, including the JTAC’s (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers). According to the information released by the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the operation is to take place in the Dutch, German and Danish airspaces, with Leeuwarden AB being the main operational base for the fighters. The fighter component will also receive support from a NATO AWACS platform.
The second European Air Refuelling Training operation is taking place simultaneously with the Frisian Flag event. It is being realized for the European Air Forces by the European Air Transport Command. Operations within that scope are being supported by the Defence Agency, since aerial refuelling is considered to be one of the key capabilities which are to be supported by the EDA. The exercise involves French, Dutch, Italian and German tankers.
Carrying out a multinational exercise, with a high degree of complexity – such as the Frisian Flag – has a significant impact on interoperability of the NATO air forces. In the light of the situation in the Mid-Eastern Europe, it seems that organization of such training events is highly desirable – at a similar level, both within the scope of scale, as well as within the scope of the multinational involvement (involving both the US military aviation, as well as the air forces of the Western Europe), also within the territories of the NATO member states, including Poland.