Our Air National Guard friends flying the World’s Greatest Air Superiority Fighter™ have found themselves very busy as of late, with both Louisiana’s 159th Fighter Wing and Florida’s 125th Fighter Wing deployed to Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. That’s a lot of flying tennis courts in theater, and their presence is undoubtedly well-received by our NATO partners (some others, maybe not so much) at a time of heightened tensions.
We talked a while back about the 125th Fighter Wing’s Theater Security Package (TSP) deployment, and after arriving in the Netherlands at Leeuwarden Air Base, they were fragged to play in exercise Frisian Flag in early April, hosted by the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The spring exercise in Friesland brought in other Euro partner nations as well, including Polish Vipers and German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons, as well as Finnish and Spanish F-18 Hornets.
First begun in 1999, the Dutch-led exercise has become one of NATO‘s premier multi-national exercises, and consistently vies for the top spot among the largest of its kind in Europe.
Under the umbrella of composite air operations (COMAO), multiple mission sets were carried out in twice-daily missions. Even though Frisian Flag is a large-scale exercise, there was still time for some good ol’ 1 v 1 BFM, as seen in the video above from the Dutch Ministry of Defence.
The video features the perspective of the Dutch F-16, and after taxiing from the jet’s hardened aircraft shelter (HAS), we get to see Friesland pass by in a hurry as the Viper heads towards the airspace behind the Eagle “foe” just ahead. The pair drive to the tanker, where the USAF KC-135 is already dishing out fresh JP-8 to other Frisian Flag players.
The classic F-16 versus F-15 knife fight ensues in short order, with plenty of vapor pouring off the top of the Viper as the Dutch pilot strains to position his jet for a kill. Though a 1v1 scenario might sound mostly like fun and games (and I have no doubt it was fun for these pilots), Within Visual Range (WVR) weapons employment is still just as valid today as it was before the modern days of highly capable Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, necessitating the need for these training scenarios.
Thanks to the RNLAF for taking us along for the ride!