International Live-Fly Exercises in Netherlands Drawing to a Close
(Source: NATO Allied Maritime Command; issued April 12, 2019)
RAMSTEIN, Germany --- This Friday, exercises Frisian Flag and European Air Refueling Training are concluding in the Netherlands after two weeks during which NATO and Partner fighter and refueling aircraft conducted interoperability training.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force hosted exercise Frisian Flag 2019 at Leeuwarden Air Base and participating pilots and aircrews from Allies Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as Partner Switzerland flew their fighters into training areas in the skies over the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Up to 50 aircraft were launched from the Frisian air base for major composite air operation sorties to execute challenging missions implementing NATO tactics, techniques and procedures and standards.

Missions flown during Frisian Flag included defensive and offensive air missions, protection of friendly aircraft and simulated strikes on static and moving targets on land or at sea. The fighter formations operated independently or in coordination with Forward Air Controller units on the ground or at sea. Several ground-based Air Defence Systems enabled realistic scenarios within exercise missions. As in previous years, Frisian Flag demonstrates the benefit and necessity of a major international live-fly exercise allowing participants not only to conduct sorties, but also to comprehensive prepare and analyse their mission in a joint endeavour.

Integrated into Frisian Flag, the European Air Refueling Training, in short EART, 2019 took place organised by the European Air Transport Command or EATC. Five tanker aircraft from the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted air-to-air refueling within the exercise scenario showcasing their enabling role extending the flying time and range of the fighters.

"EART is a unique opportunity for the Air-to-Air Refueling community in Europe,” says Brigadier General Agresti, EATC Deputy Commander of the at Eindhoven. "In the light of the complexity of air-to-air refueling operations there is nothing better than a fully comprehensive approach and extensive cooperation among nations - and this is exactly what EATC and EART are doing,” he added.

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Royal Air Force Voyager Goes Dutch With Schnell Tanker
(Source: Royal Air Force; issued April 12, 2019)
Royal Air Force tanker crews and their aircraft have spent two weeks in Holland as part of a major multinational refuelling exercise to improve interoperability between them.

Crews from 10 Squadron and 101 Squadron normally based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire have spent a fortnight operating from Eindhoven airbase during European Air Refuelling Training (EART) 19, an event that allows tanker crews from several nations to become familiar with each other’s tactics and aircraft.

Leading the detachment supporting the RAF’s A330 Voyager tanker, Squadron Leader Craig Gibson said: “The opportunity to train with our partner nations has been fantastic. By operating alongside Dutch, French, or German tankers in one formation, we have been able to practice tactics and techniques that we can only do on an exercise like EART, refuelling French Mirage 2000 and German Typhoon fighters throughout the 2 weeks.”

Alongside the RAF Voyager was a Dutch KDC-10, a German A310, while the French and USA each brought a KC-135. During the exercise the Voyager refuelled a range of aircraft including Typhoons from the German Luftwaffe.

Oli, one of the pilots, explained how air-to-air refuelling differs for tanker and fast jet crews: v“In the likes of Op Shader, the preparation for tanking Typhoons amounts to 95% of our mission whereas for the fighter pilot it is just 5% of their day. It is important for us to understand their needs and the pressures upon them when they join us to refuel.”

This year was the first time that the RAF had taken part in the exercise. It gave the air and ground crews practice and experience at working away from their home base as operating in such conditions provides excellent training for operations. Likewise, multinational exercises provide invaluable familiarity with partners and their aircraft types that the RAF might have to work with in the future.

Flight Sergeant Paul Riley, one of the Mission Systems Officers on the exercise had flown onboard each of the nation’s aircraft in order to develop and share best practice.

“Fuel keeps the fast jets, such as our Typhoons, in the fight. A big part of what this exercise was about was understanding their needs in order to be so much more than an airborne petrol station. For example, we synchronise our plans with their missions so that once refuelled we have managed to place them in the best location for the next part of their sortie.

“Tankers can also have an important search and rescue role that as their endurance allows them to keep over the area where the pilot would have ejected and thus coordinate any rescue mission. As the exercise has progressed the information flow between the various nations has got better and faster; this exercise has definitely been of great value,” said Flight Sergeant Paul Riley, Mission Systems Officer

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