This year, the annual, two week, exercise Frisian Flag was organised by the RNLAF 323 ‘ACDC’ Squadron. Operations from Leeuwarden saw RNLAF F-35A Lightning II’s from 322 Squadron and 313 Squadron, GAF EF-2000 Eurofighters from TLG 31, BAF F-16AM Fighting Falcons from 350th Squadron FiAF F/A-18C Hornets from ??? Squadron and a Learjet LJ-35 of SkyLine serving as electronic signals combatant, all during both weeks. In the second week two RNLAF AH-64D Apache helicopters and a RNLN NH-90 helicopter were added to the scenario’s.
This edition saw a lot participants fly from surrounding airbases but also many that came over to the airbase in the northern Dutch province of Friesland.
There were DAF F-16AM Fighting Falcons, RNLAF F-16AM’s, RAF F-35B Lightning II’s (operating from the HMS Queen Elizabeth out on the North Sea), a FAF E-3A AWACS and aerial refuelling aircraft from the RNLAF with A-330 MRTT’s and the USAFE with KC-135’s.
But also there were “Ghost 01 and 02” being two F-35 pilots flying from ground based simulators that took part, which was a first.
The two-week NATO military exercise “Air Defender 2023” held from June 12-23, 2023, over mainly Germany has been all the rage. It’s been the largest deployment of air forces in NATO’s history, demonstrating transatlantic solidarity.
Good friend and fellow Aviation Photographer Remco Donselaar and I got the idea to head out to the aforementioned three airbases for a three-day road trip during the second week of the exercise. The weather forecast looked overall sunny though hot. We followed through, got familiar with any intel necessary, booked an Airbnb and packed our bags!
The FULL BLOG also contains an interview with USAF Michigan ANG A-10C Pilot Maj. Brett Devries!