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The 159th FS, Florida ANG; Leeuwarden April 13-24, 2015

International Exercise Frisian Flag, part 1; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

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.

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. Along with the Florida Army National Guard it forms the Florida National Guard. Each state in the United States has its own militia to protect the state against enemies. The formal commander of the Air National Guard is the governor of Florida. The headquarters of the Florida National Guard is at the St Francis Barracks in St Augustine. 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. Additionally, the Florida ANG is used as part of the Air Expeditionary Forces and is regularly participating in global deployments.

The 159th FS was founded in 1942 as a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt unit. The 159th FS flew air-defense missions as part of the Philadelphia Fighter Wing during the Second World War. The squadron was during the Second World War, part of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) which was part of the VIII Fighter Command in England in June 1943. The squadron supported the air strike during Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands in September 1944. The unit returned back to the United States in 1945 where the 159th FS was eventually disbanded. Shortly after the war, the United States Air National Guard was established on March 16, 1946. In Florida, the 159th FS was re-established as part of the Florida ANG at Jacksonville Airport. The first aircraft which were received by the unit were P-51D Mustang fighter planes. From 1948 the unit switched to the F-80C Shooting Star. The unit would participate with these aircraft in the Korean War at the beginning of the 50s. During the beginning of the Cold War the unit would fly with the F-86L Sabre and the F-102A Delta Dagger. In 1974, the 125th Fighter Interceptor Group was converted from the F-102 Delta Dagger to the F-106 Delta Dart. The 159th FS flew more than 12 years with the Delta Dart. These planes were at the end of 1986 replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Florida ANG was one of the few units which made this change, because most units switched to the F-15 Eagle. The Florida ANG would eventually also change to the F-15 Eagle in 1995. The unit flew from that moment with the F-15A/B Eagle.

The 125th Fighter Wing (125th FW) is nowadays still a unit of the Florida Air National Guard and is 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. The unit was established as ANG unit on July 1, 1956 as the 159th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. 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 time, the 159th FS is equipped with the American McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. The F-15 Eagle is a modern air superiority fighter of the fourth generation. 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 unit is during this task guided by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The 159th FS has at both airports where they are stationed continuous QRA aircraft ready to respond when needed.

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