Royal Netherlands Air Force

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Royal Netherlands Air Force
Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu)
Royal Netherlands Air Force emblem.svg
Royal Netherlands Air Force emblem
Founded July 1913, independent force 27 March 1953
Country  Netherlands
Branch Air Force
Size 8.030 personnel,[1] 175 aircraft and 88 UAV
Part of Dutch Armed Forces
Motto Parvus numero, magnus merito (Latin: small in numbers, great in deeds)
Lieutenant-general Sander Schnitger
Roundel Netherlands roundel.svg Roundel of the Netherlands Low-Visibility.svg
Air Force Flag 90px
Aircraft flown
Attack AH-64D
Fighter F-16
Patrol Dornier 228
Trainer PC-7
Transport C-130 Hercules, CH-47 Chinook, AS-532 Cougar, NH-90, KDC-10, Agusta-Bell 412, Gulfstream IV, Aérospatiale Alouette III

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) (Dutch: Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), "Royal Air Force"), is the military aviation branch of the Netherlands Armed Forces. Its ancestor, the Luchtvaartafdeling (aviation department) of the Dutch Army was founded on 1 July 1913, with four pilots. The aerobatic display team of the Royal Netherlands Air Force is the Solo Display Team.


Origin in 1913


The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is the second youngest operational part of the Dutch Armed Forces, which consists of four parts: Navy, Army, Air Force and Military Police.

Dutch air power started in July 1913 with the founding of the Army Aviation Group (Luchtvaartafdeeling or LVA) at Soesterberg airfield (vliegbasis Soesterberg). When founded, the Army Aviation Group operated one aircraft, the Brik, which was supplemented with three French Farman aircraft a few months later.

These aircraft were soon outdated and the Dutch government ordered several fighter/reconnaissance Nieuport and Caudron aircraft to replace them.

World War I (1914–1918)

The Netherlands maintained a neutral position during World War I and the Army Aviation Group did not take part in any action, instead developing the force's capabilities.

Pilot training was opened for ranks below officer, and technical, aerial photography, meteorological and navigation flights were established.

New airfields were established at Arnhem, Gilze-Rijen air base, Venlo and Vlissingen.

Between the wars

After the end of World War I the Dutch government cut the defence budget and the Army Aviation Group was almost dissolved. As political tensions in Europe increased during the late 1930s the government tried to rebuild the armed forces again in 1938 but there were many problems, not least the shortage of pilot instructors, navigators and pilots to fly the new multiple engine aircraft. Lack of standardisation and resulting maintenance issues added to the complexity of the rebuilding task.

World War II and late 1940s

Fokker G.I Jachtkruiser

As war loomed, in July 1939 the Army Aviation Group was renamed the Army Aviation Brigade (Luchtvaartbrigade).

In August 1939, the Netherlands government mobilised its armed forces, but due to limited budgets the Army Aviation Brigade operated only 176 combat aircraft of the following types:

Fokker D.XXI at the Air Force Museum in Soesterberg.

In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Within five days the Dutch Army Aviation Brigade was taken out by the German Luftwaffe. All of the Brigade's bombers, along with 30 D.XXI and 17 G.I fighters were shot down; two D.XXI and eight G.I were destroyed on the ground. Two G.I were captured by German forces, one of which was later flown to England by a Fokker pilot. The Douglas bombers were used as fighters because no suitable bombs were available; these aircraft were poorly suited for this role and eight were shot down and three destroyed on the ground in the first hours of the conflict.

In spite of their numerical inferiority, the Dutch armed forces did enjoy success against the Luftwaffe, having 350 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed, although many of these were lost to anti-aircraft fire and crashes at improvised landing fields in the Netherlands rather than due to action by Dutch fighters. The cost was high – almost 95% of the Dutch pilots were lost. In recognition of their actions Queen Wilhelmina granted the highest Dutch military decoration, the Militaire Willemsorde (MWO), to the Army Aviation Brigade collectively.

Some aircrews escaped to England and on 1 June 1940, 320 Squadron and 321 Squadron were established there under RAF operational command. Due to a shortage of personnel, 321 Squadron was absorbed by 320 Sqn in January 1941. Although their personnel were predominantly from the Navy Air Service, Army Aviation aircrew also served with 320 Sqn until the end of the war.

In 1941, the Royal Netherlands Military Flying-School was re-established, in the United States at Jackson Field (also known as Hawkins Field), Jackson, Mississippi, operating lend-lease aircraft and training all military aircrew for the Netherlands.

The separate Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (ML-KNIL; Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Military Air Service) continued in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI), until its occupation by Japan in 1942.[2][3] Some personnel escaped to Australia and Ceylon. 321 Squadron was re-formed in Ceylon, in March 1942, from Dutch aviators.

In 1942, 18 (NEI) Squadron, a joint Dutch-Australian unit was established, in Canberra, equipped with B-25 Mitchell bombers. It saw action in the New Guinea campaign and over the Dutch East Indies. In 1943, 120 (NEI) Squadron was established. Equipped with Kittyhawk fighters, it flew many missions under Australian command, including the recapturing of Dutch New Guinea.

P-40D Kittyhawk

In June 1943, a Dutch fighter squadron was established in England. 322 (Dutch) Squadron, equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire, saw action as part of the RAF. 322 Sqn aircraft featured the British RAF roundels as well as the Dutch orange triangle. 322 Sqn was successfully deployed against incoming V-1 flying bombs. From mid-1944, during the invasion of Normandy, it executed ground attack missions over France and Belgium.

In July 1944, the Directorate of Netherlands Airpower was established in London.

In 1947, its Chief of Air Force Staff was appointed.

1950s and 1960s

In 1951 several non-combat functions in the Army Aviation were opened to women.

On 27 March 1953 the Royal Netherlands Air Force officially became an independent part of the Dutch armed forces, rather than part of the Army.[4]

The Air Defense Command, (Commando Lucht Verdediging, abbreviated CLV) consisting of a command unit, five radar stations and six fighter squadrons, had been established. Its radar equipment as well as its air defense fighters all came from obsolete RAF stocks.

  • The Spitfire Mk.IX was used by 322 Squadron RNLAF until 1954, but was replaced as new squadrons were established.
  • The Gloster Meteor F Mk.IV was used by 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327 and 328 Squadrons from 1948–1957. Bases included Soesterberg and Leeuwarden.
  • The Gloster Meteor F Mk.VIII was used by 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327 and 328 sqn from 1951–1958.
F-84F Thunderstreaks of 315 Squadron RNAF fitted with extra fuel tanks at RAF Chivenor in 1969

After the Netherlands joined NATO another new command: Tactical Air Command (Commando Tactische Luchtstrijdkrachten, abbreviated CTL) was established.

  • CTL consisted of seven new strike squadrons (306, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315 and 316 sqn), all equipped with Republic F-84G Thunderjet aircraft. These aircraft were supplied by the United States under the Mutual Defense Aid Program from 1952–1956. 311 was the first flying squadron to be stood up at Volkel on 1 May 1951.[5]
  • 322, 323, 324, 325, 326 and 327 Sqn operated the Hawker Hunter F Mk.4 between 1955–1964, and 322, 324, 325 and 326 Sqn operated the Hawker Hunter F Mk.6 between 1957–1968.
  • 700, 701 and 702 Sqn operated the North American F-86K Sabre all-weather fighter between 1955–1964.
  • 306, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315 and 316 sqn changed aircraft configuration from 1955–1970 as the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak and RF-84F Thunderflash became available.

New Guinea conflict

Video of RNLAF aircraft in 1961. Dutch newsreel.

The Indonesian government claimed New Guinea following the end of the Second World War. The Dutch government considered the area Dutch territory. Negotiations over the country were conducted for years, but tensions grew until Indonesia broke diplomatic relations with the Netherlands at the end of the 1950s.

In response, in 1958, the Netherlands deployed military reinforcements to New Guinea, including an Air Force detachment for the air defense of the island Biak as there was evidence that Indonesia was infiltrating the island in advance of a military operation.

The first Air Force contribution was the installation of two MkIV early warning radars on Biak and neighbouring Woendi island.

The political situation between the Netherlands and Indonesia continued to deteriorate and in 1960 the Dutch government deployed reinforcements. The operations were known by name as ’Plan Fidelio’. For the Dutch Air Force this meant the establishment of an Air Defense Command for New Guinea (Commando Luchtverdediging Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea – CLV NNG) consisting of:

  • one Hawker Hunter Mk.4 air defence squadron;
  • a radar navigation system at Biak, and;
  • a reserve airstrip at Noemfoer.

The Dutch government deployed a squadron consisting of 12 Hawker Hunter Mk.4 AD fighters and two Alouette II SAR helicopters. They were transported to Southeast Asia by the Karel Doorman. One year later the Dutch government deployed another 12 Hawker Hunter Mk6 AD fighters; these aircraft carried more fuel and had a larger combat radius.

In August 1962 Indonesia was ready to attack New Guinea. Despite reinforcements the Dutch defences would be insufficient to withstand the coming attack. Therefore, and because of international political pressure the Dutch government was forced to agree to the peaceful surrender of New Guinea. Dutch forces were withdrawn from the territory.

The establishment of 336 transport squadron is closely connected to New Guinea. Soon after activation this unit was deployed to New Guinea to take over air transport from the Dutch Navy. 336 Sqn deployed and took over three Navy Dakotas and three US supplied aircraft. 336 Sqn operated from Mokmer airstrip and transported more than 5,400 passengers between September 1961 and September 1962.

Cold War era, 1960s, 1970s and later

During the cold war era Dutch Air Force units played an important part in the West European defence against the opposing Warsaw Pact forces. The Dutch Air Force manned five fully operational self-supporting Missile Groups in West Germany (1 and 2 MslGrp were equipped with NIKE batteries, while 3,4 and 5 MslGrp were equipped with Hawk). Dutch fighters and other weapon systems also took a full part in NATO alert, standby duties and exercises through the years.

  • 306, 311, 312, 322 and 323 Sqn changed configuration again from 1962–1984 after the dual role F-104 Starfighter was introduced.
  • 313, 314, 315 and 316 Sqn switched over to the NF-5 Freedom Fighter from 1969–1991. The NF-5 was a development of the Canadair CF-5 fighter. Northrop incorporated some NF-5 features into the F-5E/F Tiger II.
  • Since 1979 all RNLAF fast-jet squadrons (originally 306, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 322 and 323) have operated the multi role F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Former Yugoslavia

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 arrives for the Royal International Air Tattoo, England, (2014)
KDC-10 in support of NATO aircraft

In 1992 Ypenburg Air Base closed. After the USAF handed over their section of Soesterberg in September 1994, Soesterberg then became a RNLAF transport helicopter base with 298 Squadron RNLAF (CH-47D Chinook) and 300 Squadron (AS 532U2 Cougar Mk2 and SA 316 Alouette III) stationed at the base.

RNLAF F-16s participated in all operations over Yugoslavia from 1993 Deny Flight, including Deliberate Force in 1995 and ending with Operation Allied Force in 1999 from two bases in Italy. Initially from Villafranca AB in the north of Italy, later moving south to Amendola AB. During the operations over FRY RNLAF F-16s flew reconnaissance (306 Sqn detachments from Volkel AB were in theatre throughout the operations), enforced the Bosnian no-fly zone, dropped bombs on Udbina AB (1994), successfully dropped an unguided bomb on a moving Serb tank during the fall of Srebrenica (1995), and took part in Deliberate Force later in the summer of 1995.

Between 1994 and 1997 Dutch GCI personnel, along with Canadian GCI controllers, provided many hundreds of hours of fighter control and surveillance as integrated members of USAF/ANG Air Control Squadrons. In May 1999 during the Kosovo crisis a pilot RNLAF F-16AM major Peter Tankink shot down[6] a Yugoslavian MiG-29 with an AMRAAM, but the force was more recognized for its high bombing accuracy. Allied Force was also the operational debut for the upgraded F-16AM. Besides the CAP mission, offensive bombing and photo reconnaissance missions were flown. KDC-10 tankers refuelled allied aircraft over the Adriatic Sea, and C-130 Hercules transports flew daily sorties from Eindhoven AB to logistically support the operation. Dutch F-16s also dropped cluster bombs on Niš. In total, RNLAF aircraft flew 1,194 sorties during operation Allied Force, which is about 7.5% of the total 37,000 sorties flown.

Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO in Afghanistan

An F-16 of the RNLAF over Afghanistan

On 2 October 2002 a tri-national detachment of 18 Dutch, Danish and Norwegian F-16 ground attack aircraft and one Dutch KDC-10 tanker deployed to Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan in support of ground forces in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. On 1 October 2003 the Dutch F-16 detachment returned to the Netherlands and the KDC-10 returned even earlier (1 April 2003). The RNLAF returned to Manas AB on 8 September 2004 with five F-16 and one KDC-10 in support of the presidential elections of Afghanistan. This time the aircraft flew under the NATO ISAF flag. On 24 March 2005 the whole Dutch detachment transferred from Manas AB to Kabul International Airport. A detachment of six AH-64D Apache helicopters were already stationed at Kabul International Airport from April 2004 until March 2005.

In February 2006 four Dutch F-16s were joined by four Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s in a detachment known as the 1st Netherlands-Norwegian European Participating Forces Expeditionary Air Wing (1 NLD/NOR EEAW). This was a follow up of the participation with the Belgian Air Force.[7]

As part of the expanded NATO ISAF mission in southern Afghanistan in August 2006, the Royal Netherlands Air Force had three CH-47D Chinook of 298 Sq stationed at Kandahar Airfield. On 12 November 2006 eight F-16s transferred from Kabul International Airport to Kandahar Airfield, Additionally, a detachment of six (later four) AH-64D Apache helicopters had been stationed of Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province. The CH-47D Chinooks of 298 sq rotated with Cougars from 300 sq. All helicopters together with a few F-16s returned to the Netherlands in November 2010. The other four F-16s transferred from Kandahar Airfield to Mazar-e-Sharif International Airport in November 2011. The F-16 flight, providing Close Air Support for ground forces and Recce Flights (specialised in counter-ied's), ended their mission officially on 1 July 2014.[8]

On 31 August 2006 a Royal Netherlands Air Force (Michael "Sofac" Donkervoort) pilot was killed when his plane crashed during a mission to support British ground troops in Helmand province.[9]

On 7 December 2007 military use of Twente Air Base ceased. The aerodrome is now known as Enschede Airport Twente. Flying officially ended at Soesterberg Air Base on 12 November 2008. The last jet ever to take off was a Hellenic AF F-4E. The base formally closed on 31 December 2008. The 298th and 300th squadron have been moved to Gilze-Rijen Air Base. A part of the base remains in use as a glider field however. Also, the former USAFE side will be in use by ground units Relocated from Kamp van Zeist and will be called "Camp New Amsterdam". Finally, the AF museum (Royal Netherlands Military Aviation Museum) returned to the base and will use most of the existing hangars.


In 2013 the Royal Netherlands Air Force provided Strategic Airlift Support with a DC-10 in support of French operations in Mali.

The RNLAF was hit hard by the Dutch defence cuts after the 2008 financial crisis. 311 Squadron was disbanded in September 2012, leaving four squadrons of F-16. 1 DC-10 Transport Aircraft was disposed of.[5]

In October 2014 The Netherlands Air Force joined the US and its Allies fighting IS, deploying 8 F-16's (of which 2 reserve) to Jordan.

On 31 October 2014 323 Tactess squadron (F-16) disbanded and its aircraft and personnel were merged into 322 Squadron. The following Wednesday (5 November) the squadron reformed in the USA as the RNLAF first Joint Strike Fighter unit.[10]

303 Squadron (Agusta Bell AB 412SP) provided search and rescue within Dutch Flight Information Region) until 1 January 2015 when the unit was disbanded.[11]

Structure of the Royal Netherlands Air Force

Main Operating Bases (MOBs)

F-16 of the Solo Display Team in 2009
F-16 of 322 squadron

Tactical Air Operations Base

In 2009 710 (CRC) and 711 (MilATCC) Sqn were merged into one Air Operations Sqn (711 Sqn). The status of the base was changed to NATO status, as an airmobile NATO Deployable Air control centre, Recognised air picture production centre, Sensor fusion post DARS radar unit became operational on the base in the same year. The CRC is slated to become the first user of the Thales land based version of the SMART-L surveillance radar, which will replace the old Medium Power Radars at Nieuw Miligen and Wier from 2018.[13]

Eurocopter AS 532U2 Cougar Mk 2 (the military version of the civilian AS 332 Super Puma) of the RNLAF at RIAT 2010
AH-64D Apache of the RNLAF in 2007
NH90 NFH of the Royal Netherlands Navy

Defence Helicopter Command

  • Naval Air Station De Kooij (Den Helder Airport)
    • 7 Squadron (NH90) (Training and Standards)
    • 860 Squadron (NH90) (Ship-board Operations and Search and Rescue)
    • 990 Maintenance Squadron
    • 991 Support Squadron

Designated as a military aviation site. Only fully operational when used for military helicopter exercises, otherwise staffed only by security personnel,

  • Fort Hood – USA
    • 302 Squadron (AH-64D Apache and CH-47F Chinook) (Weapons & Air Mobile Training)

Air Transport Base

C-130H of the RNLAF in 2009

Common Support Base

  • Woensdrecht Air Base
    • Royal Netherlands Air Force Training Center (Koninklijke Militaire School Luchtmacht)
      • 130 Squadron (Initial Military Training)
      • 131 Squadron (Initial Military Flight Training) (PC-7)
      • 132 Squadron (Training and Doctrine, Management Training)
      • 133 Squadron (Training for Electronic and Technical specialists)
    • Air Force Meteorological Group
    • Air Force Logistics Center
    • 960 Maintenance and Logistics Support Squadron
    • 961 Support Squadron
    • 604 Reserve Squadron (partial)

Miscellaneous units

    • 600 Reserve Squadron (Training and Standards, Air Liaison Officers, Specialist Reserves)
    • 323 Squadron (F-35 Operational Test and Evaluation, Edwards AFB, California, United States)[14][15]

Rank structure

Aircraft inventory

Photo Origin Type In service[16][17] Notes
Fighter aircraft (63 in total)
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II USA Fighter aircraft 2 (35 on order) Two aircraft were ordered for testing and evaluation.[18][19] 1st F-35A F-001 was handed over to the RNLAF on 25 July 2013 at Fort Worth (USA). A minimum of 37 F-35A's will be ordered to replace the F-16.[20]
Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon USA Fighter aircraft 61 From 1979 onwards 213 were license-built by Fokker of which 29 F-16A and 7 F-16B were sold to Chile, 6 F-16B were sold to Jordan. On 17 September 2013 it was announced that a further 7 F-16's will be withdrawn from active service and will serve as spares to increase the readiness of the remaining 61 jets.[21]
Trainers (13 in total)
Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer Switzerland Training Aircraft 13 Originally painted yellow/red, now black with 2 yellow markings.
Transporters (9 in total)
Lockheed C-130H-30 Hercules USA Transport aircraft 4 2x C-130H-30 and 2x ex-US Navy EC-130Q's, which were converted to C-130H by Derco Aerospace and Marshall Aerospace.[22] All have been upgraded to common Digital Cockpit.
McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 USA Aerial refueling 2 All upgraded to common digital cockpit, to be replaced by Airbus A330-MRTT in 2020.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III USA Strategic Transport 3 (shared) Shared within NATO's Heavy Airlift Wing and based at Pápa Air Base, Hungary. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has access to 500 flight hours per year.
Gulfstream IV USA Utility aircraft 1 VIP transport.
Dornier Do 228 Germany Coastal patrol 2 Civil registrations but with military crews, North Sea area.[23]
Helicopters (90 in total)
Boeing AH-64D Apache USA Attack helicopter 28 30 procured, 1 crashed in Afghanistan in 2004 and was written off.[24] Another crashed in Mali in 2015.[25] Being upgraded to Block II standard.[26]
Eurocopter AS 532U2 Cougar Mk2 France Utility helicopter 17 Mid-Life Update programme as of 2009. In 2012 9 were put in storage and 8 remain operational, to be phased out in 2017 and replaced by CH-47F. In 2014 it was decided to bring all out of storage, raising the operational total to 17 to compensate for the delays in the NH-90 delivery program and guarantee alternative capacity until at least 2018.
Boeing CH-47F Chinook USA Heavy lift helicopter 6 + 14 6 CH-47Fs were ordered in 2011 with options for 2 more.[22] In 2015 an order for 14 additional new CH-47Fs to eventually replace CH-47D. The 6 operational CH-47Fs will be upgraded to a common version based on the newly ordered CH-47F.
Boeing CH-47D Chinook USA Heavy lift helicopter 11 2 CH-47D were lost in battle over Afghanistan.
11 Operational, oldest airframes to be replaced by new CH-47F models on order.
NHIndustries NH90 Italy NATO frigate helicopter 20 Deliveries started in 2010. 12 NFH and 8 TNFH (Navalised) to be used from LPD/LPH in support of Marines. Due to technological problems (corrosion) the deployment into operational service is delayed.
Eurocopter Dauphin 2 France Search and rescue 3 Operated by Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen on behalf of the Dutch Coast Guard with Coast Guard markings.[27] 2 helicopters based at De Kooy and 1 at Maasvlakte Heliport. Will eventually be replaced by the NH-90.[28]
Unmanned aerial vehicles (88 in total)
MQ-9 Reaper USA UAV 4 Leeuwarden Air Base planned to be operational by 2016, fully Air Deployable with Ground Station & Support Equipment.
RQ-11 Raven USA Mini-UAV 72 Used by Koninklijke Landmacht and Korps Mariniers with Airforce roundels.
ScanEagle USA Reconnaissance / Surveillance 12 Used by Koninklijke Landmacht, one analogue ground station with six aircraft, two digital ground stations with three aircraft each. Additional capacity will be acquired.
F-16 J-229 painted in 2004 to celebrate 25 years service of the F-16 in Dutch service
F-16 MLU of RNLAF's Solo Display Team at Radom Air Show 2005


  • 37 F-35A Lightning II are expected to replace the F-16 fleet, before cost overruns the number was planned to be 85.[18][29] Two F-35A have been delivered for the testing program and for training pilots and maintenance crew. This first aircraft is stationed at a base in Florida, USA.[30] On 19 September 2013 the MOD announced that it will buy 35 additional F-35A's between 2014–2023, bringing the total to 37, the maximum number fitting the original budget for F16 replacement. First aircraft to enter service in 2019, last in 2023.[31]
  • In 2012 plans were announced to replace all existing CH-47D Chinooks (11) with new-build CH-47F models as most cost-efficient instead of upgrading existing airframes, 14 new CH-47F's models are ordered in 2015 via Foreign Military Sales Agreement with the US based on current US CH-47F platform, existing operational CH-47F's will be upgraded to the same standard.
  • MALE UAV flight of 4 (MQ-9 Reaper), including ground control station and fully airlift deployable expected to enter service in 2016
  • MRTT Study to replace Dutch KDC-10 Tanker/Transport aircraft in 2020. The Netherlands is lead nation in study to replace existing Tanker/Transport in service and add additional capacity within NATO, incl. Norway and Poland within EATC, in 2014 it was announced that the Airbus Military A330 MRTT has been selected and at least 4 will be acquired potentially 8.
  • As per 2017 the Air Defence – Quick Reaction Force of 2 F-16 fighters will be integrated for Belgian, Dutch & Luxembourg airspace and rotate between Dutch and Belgian squadrons.
  • PC-7 Training Aircraft will be overhauled and provided with an 'all digital cockpit' by Pilatus Switzerland during 2017–2018 to extend their service live at least until 2025.

The Netherlands was the first country to sign up for the Production Sustainment and Follow On Development (PSFD) Phase of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.[32]

Through the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability, the RNLAF has access to three C-17s.[33]

Plans to integrate closely with The Belgian Air Force include centralising all Transport Aircraft at Melsbroek (Brussels Airport) under Belgian supervision and all Helicopters (Air Force & Navy) under Dutch supervision at Gilze-Rijen Airbase to reduce operating cost, improve availability and knowledge (2013).

Replacement for F-16

The first Dutch F-35A flying alongside an RNLAF F-16 attached to the 148th FS.

The Netherlands Air Force wants to replace its F-16 fleet in the next decade. Candidates for the replacement were the Dassault Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52/60, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Saab Gripen and the Lockheed Martin F-35. In 2002 The Netherlands signed a MOU (Memoradum Of Understanding) to co-develop the F-35 as a 'Tier 2' Partner. That deal is worth around 800 million US dollars, advanced by the Dutch government on behalf of Dutch industries: After the demise of Fokker Aircraft, the government wanted to retain whatever aerospace industry it could.

In early 2008, a decision was put before Parliament to buy two test aircraft for Dutch pilots to train in the US. But instead, in April 2009 it was decided to buy just one test aircraft and defer the final decision as to what to buy to 2011, after the elections. The new government announced plans to acquire the second test aircraft in April 2011 in order to remain with the test program, but a next government and Parliament will review the whole process again while opposition to the F-35 is growing ever stronger. Reasons for this are ever rising costs, uncertainty about the exact cost of the aircraft, slips in the schedule of delivery and thus uncertainty about delivery dates. Also, Dutch industries have been complaining about their offsets from the USA.[34]

On 17 September 2013 it was announced that the F-35A is the official replacement for the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 MLU. On 26 February 2014 Parliament approved to buy the first batch of eight F-35 aircraft, to be delivered in 2019.[35] Early 2015 an additional batch of 8 aircraft were authorised and acquired.

See also


  1. nl:Nederlandse Krijgsmacht#Commando Luchtstrijdkrachten
  2. Klemen, L. "Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Broshot, James A. (1999–2000). "Dutch Air Force Order of Battle in the Dutch East Indies, 30 November 1941". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Royal Netherlands Air Force", Flight and Aircraft Engineer, vol. LXIII no. 2307, p. 446, 10 April 1953, retrieved 23 December 2015<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fiorenza, Nicholas (27 September 2012). "RNLAF Disbands F-16 Squadron".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Yugoslav & Serbian MiG-29s". Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Ministerie van Defensie". 11 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  8. "Inzet luchtmacht boven Afghanistan". Retrieved 26 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "South Asia | Dutch F-16 crash in Afghanistan". BBC News. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Luchtmacht heeft eerste F-35 Squadron" (in Nederlands). 5 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Defence discontinues use of yellow search-and-rescue helicopters". Retrieved 16 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Orbats – Scramble". Retrieved 16 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Defensie en Thales onderhouden samen luchtruimverdedigings-systemen". 22 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "First F-35 squadron for the RNLAF". Retrieved 14 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Dutch F-35s arrive in California". Retrieved 22 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "World Air Forces 2013"., 11 December 2012.
  17. World Air Forces 2014 10 December 2013
  18. 18.0 18.1 Dutch orders for F-35 likely to be scaled back. Reuters. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  19. "Dutch minister resists new defense cuts" 27 June 2013
  20. "Netherlands cuts F-35 fleet plan to 37 fighters" 17 September 2013
  21. "F-16 Air Forces – The Netherlands".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Dutch military aviation OrBat". Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Dutch Coastguard". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Harro Ranter. "ASN Aircraft accident 29-AUG-2004 Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow Q-20". Retrieved 3 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "2 Apache pilots killed in Mali". Retrieved 22 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "The Netherlands – Upgrade AH-64D Apache Block I Helicopters to Block II" 12 August 2009
  27. OO-NHU, photo retrieved 15 June 2014.
  28. – Vliegende eenheden, article retrieved 15 June 2014.
  29. "Italy opens F-35 assembly line, as political opposition grows". 18 July 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Second Dutch F-35 leaves factory. 6 March 2013
  31. "Dutch government says to purchase 37 F-35 fighter planes" 17 September 2013
  32. "Dutch Sign F-35 Production MoU, But Political Challenges Remain". 16 November 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  33. "Declaration of Intent between Germany and Netherlands", 28 May 2013
  34. Van onze redactie politiek. "Uitgelachen PvdA boekt toch winst – Nieuws – TROUW". Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Van onze redactie. "Kabinet kan eerste JSF's bestellen". Retrieved 27 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links