Royal Netherlands Air Force


Formed in 1913 under the title Luchtvaartafdeling (Aviation Department) and as such subordinate to the Dutch Army, today's Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Air Force) is an independent air arm. The current title however, was only introduced in 1953. In 2002 the KLu is significantly different from only 15 years ago. The Northrop NF-5 light weight fighter bombers have been disposed of. The transport fleet is much more varied and capable than it used to be during the cold war and saw it's Fokker F.27's replaced with Fokker 50, Fokker 60UTA-N, C-130H-30 Hercules, KDC.10 and G.1159C. The helicopter fleet which is still there to support the army made the transition from Alouette III and Bo.105CB for light observation to fire support using AH-64D Apache and light to medium transport with AS.532U-2 Cougar and CH-47D Chinook. The KLu's sole combat aircraft is now the F-16. Having been delivered in F-16A and F-16B Blocks 1 through 15, the force was brought up to Block 15OCU standard during the second half of the 1980's. Out of 212 delivered, 138 survivors are being brought up to Block 15MLU standard, avionics-wise closely approaching F-16C/D Block 52 standard.
The F-16 is now combat proven in Dutch hands, having seen action over the former Yugoslavia during Operation Deliberate Force in 1995 and Operation Allied Force in 1999. The latter operation saw the F-16MLU's combat debut, using precision guided munitions against ground targets as well as AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles to down a Serbian MiG.29.
Recently, the Dutch government decided in favour of participating in the USA's Joint Strike Fighter project. This is aimed at bringing into service a production derivative of today's Lockheed-Martin X-35 by the beginning of the next decade. Most likely, the resulting aircraft for which the designation F-35 has been coined, will replace the KLu's F-16 force.
In any case will the KLu face more peace keeping operations in the near future. The first of these will be participation in a multi-national peace keeping force for Afghanistan, for which Manas airport in Kyrgiztan has been selected.

Anyway, enjoy the next few pictures of KLu aircraft of the recent past and the present.

Many thanks go to all the Air Force PRO's who organised the Photocalls over the years, during which some of these photos could be made.

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink.

The past

F-104G D-8051
Many, pilots and enthusiasts alike, have fond memories of the "honderdenvier" as the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter was often referred to. D-8051 was with 312 sq at Volkel when this picture was taken at it's home base. Nowadays, D-8051 can still be viewed on it's plinth near Leeuwarden's main gate.
F-104 retirement came in 1984.
Volkel, 25 April 1984.


NF-5A K-3056
The safest fighter in terms of accident rate in the history of the KLu; the Northrop NF-5. This NF-5A K-3056 was with 315 sq when this picture was taken at Twenthe. It is still in the colour scheme in which the NF-5 was delivered. During the eighties, a number of grey colour schemes were trialled, an example of which can be seen below.
Twenthe, 2 October 1985.


NF-5B K-4014
The other NF-5 unit at Twenthe during the seventies and most of the eighties was 313 sq. Nowadays, this unit's aircraft can be distinguished by the tiger badge. In the NF-5 days however, the unit had a training task and the tiger badge had not yet been introduced. NF-5B K-4014 has been resprayed in one of a pair of two tone grey schemes that preceded the definitive all grey scheme.
The NF-5 was retired in 1992.
Twenthe, 16 August 1984.



F.27M-300 C-8
For over 35 years, cargo and troop transport within Europe was handled by a dozen Fokker F.27's. The sole operating unit, 334 sq, flew three F.27-100 Friendship passenger transports with airline style interior (C-1 through C-3) along with nine cargo/trooping F.27M-300 Troopship models. These were serialled C-4 through C-12.
In this picture C-8, sprayed in it's demonstration colour scheme, shows what the type was perhaps best known for to the public outside of the Netherlands. Apart from being a tough and reliable transport, the F.27 was a popular airshow performer.
Woensdrecht, 15 October 1994.

  F.27-200MPA M-1
A rather unexpected withdrawal from service occurred in 2000, when the pair of Fokker F.27-200MPA Maritime coastal patrol aircraft were retired. Since 1981, M-1 and M-2 had flown with 336 sq at Hato, Curacao (Dutch West Indies). They had replaced a Royal Netherlands Navy detachment of SP-2H Neptunes. Some 20 years later the Caribbean patrols are again being flown by the Navy, but now with P-3C Orions. The F.27-200MPA's have been put up for sale. For this reason, M-1 had it's blue/white colourscheme replaced with all white in order to increase it's market value.
Eindhoven, 22 July 2000.


SE.3160 H-75
For many years, the Sud SE.3160 Alouette III was the KLu's Search and Rescue helicopter. Originally, five were procured over and above the Army's 72 Alouettes. One was lost in 1971 however. The remaining four soldiered on until replaced with AB.412's in 1994.
Their operating unit was the SAR Flight based at Leeuwarden since 1976.

Eindhoven, 20 September 1986.

The present

F-16AM J-254
J-254 of 313 sq (compare the Tiger squadron badge with the badge carried by NF-5B K-4014) is typical for the MLU-modified F-16A Block 15's remaining in service. The modified F-16's are known to the KLu as F-16AM and F-16BM. 138 F-16's will undergo the modification which will keep them viable until between 2010 and 2015. A replacement for the F-16 will likely be chosen this year for service introduction just after the turn of the decade.
J-254 is seen here taxying out at Rheine-Hopsten, Germany, where 313 and 315 sqs were briefly deployed due to runway resurfaceing of their Twenthe home base. Note the most visible part of the MLU upgrade, the IFF antennas in front of the windscreen. Another detail, the Block 15 used to have landing lights mounted to the main undercarriage legs. In order not to block the lights from view when targeting pods are carried, these have been moved to the nose wheel door.
Rheine-Hopsten, 9 May 2001.

F-16BM J-209
F-16BM J-209 of 315 sq is seen here carrying the LANTIRN targeting pod. LANTIRN was first used by the KLu during the Kosovo campaign in 1999. The pod enables accurate delivery of laser guided bombs. Unlike the USAF, the KLu does not use the navigation pod of the LANTIRN set. Instead, the British GEC ATLANTIC navigation pod was procured. However, due to increased emphasis on medium altitude operations the navigation pod is rarely seen.

Rheine-Hopsten, 9 May 2001.


  F-16A(R) J-638
Ever since 4 September 1953, when 306 sq was established, did the KLu have a speciallised recconnaisance squadron. Today, 306 sq operates the F-16 and for some years 306 had been unique in using the F-16 in this role. The camera and IR line-scanner equipment date back to the days of it's predecessor, the RF-104G Starfighter. In 1983, the Oldelft Orpheus camera pods were simply transferred to the especially wired 306 sq F-16A's, known since as F-16A(R)'s. 306 sq lost it's recce role during 2002 however. The unit was to replace 313 sq as the F-16 Theatre Operational Conversion unit. All the MLU F-16's are technically capable of carrying a new recce pod and recce is to become part of 311, 315 and 322 sq roles. During 2002, 306 sq relinquished its recce role and became the KLu F-16 training squadron.
Volkel, 25 October 1989.

F-16AM J-137
The premier fighter unit in the KLu is 322 sq. Having been formed on Spitfires in the UK during 1943, 322 sq flew a succession of Meteors, Hunters and Starfighters before becoming the first KLu unit on F-16's. Conversion to the F-16 took place in 1980/1981. Nowadays, 322 sq flies the updated F-16 Block 15MLU. J-137 is seen here at what many photographers call "Holland's nicest place", Leeuwarden's Runway 24 holding point.

Leeuwarden, 31 May 2001.


F-16BM J-066
The F-16 force's smallest unit is the Kantoor Testvliegen (Flight Test Office), flying F-16BM J-066. Originally operating out of Volkel in the South of the Netherlands, the KTV was moved to the northern base of Leeuwarden (Friesland).  J-066, also known as Orange Jumper (hence the distinctly non-Dutch animal in it's fin badge) among others trialled the carriage of LANTIRN and ATLANTIC pods as well as AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. J-066 in this picture lacks the pods, but does carry AIM-120 as well as dummy examples of GBU-10. The latter is the laser guided variety of the Mk.84 2000 lbs bomb. Orange Jumper stems from the orange cable clips used to distinguish non-standard from standard wiring.

Leeuwarden, 6 July 2001.



AH-64D Q-09
The current Apache production standard is the AH-64D. The KLu recieved 30 AH-64 "Deltas" for service with 301 and 302 sqs at Gilze-Rijen. Q-09 seen here preparing for take-off. Like the other types in KLu service, the Apaches are likely to see their share of peace-keeping or peace enforcing missions. The first of these is already behind their belts, despite the fact that not all 30 had yet been delivered. During the first half of 2000 a quartet of AH-64D's was based in Djibouti. The intention was to provide fire support to a Dutch Marine Corps battalion in Eritrea which was overseeing a peace accord between that country and Ethiopia. The ever ignorant popular press branded the deployment as a waste of money, but of course, it proved to be a very productive exercise.
Texel, 11 August 2001.


Fokker 60UTA-N U-03
Unique to the KLu are four Fokker 60UTA-N tactical transports. The Fokker 60 is a stretched version of the Fokker 50, fitted with a cargo door. They were designed as a part replacement for the F.27M-300 Troopship. U-01 through U-04 all serve with 334 sq at Eindhoven. Unfortunately, as Fokker went bankrupt in 1996, production of this variant remained at only these four. Leeuwarden, 6 July 2001.


C-130H-30 G-275
The KLu is a relative late arrival in the field of C-130 Hercules users. Again as part replacement of F.27's, a pair of stretched C-130H's were procured. These typically fly the longer routes with the Fokker 60's concentrating on the shorter hauls. Of course, the very much greater cargo capacity of the C-130 is an asset as well. The proud owner is 334 sq at Eindhoven. 

Groningen-Eelde, 7 July 2001.


KDC.10 T-264
The KLu entered the air refuelling business with the introduction of a pair of these KDC.10's. The KDC.10 is a converted DC.10-30 airliner. They were bought second hand from Martinair Holland. KDC.10's were used extensively during the Kosovo campaign of 1999. They also see service as long range transports. Like all Dutch military transports, KDC.10's are flown by 334 sq at Eindhoven.
Eindhoven, 22 July 2000.


  Fokker 50 U-05
The KLu's VIP fleet consists of two types. The Fokker 50 regional airliner, a development of the Fokker F.27 Friendship, was a natural choice. Two of these fly with 334 sq at Eindhoven.
Groningen-Eelde, 25 May 1997.

G.1159C V-11
Apart from the two Fokker 50's, there is the single Gulfstream G.1159C V-11. Procured second hand and thus not a C-20, V-11 is used two transport high ranking officers and politicians over longer distances than practical with the Fokker 50. V-11 is also on the strength of 334 sq at Eindhoven.
Eindhoven, 13 April 1996.


  SE.3160 A-549
In service since the mid-1960's the Sud SE.3160 Alouette III is now almost completely gone. Only four survive with 300 sq at Soesterberg. The remaining Alouettes are rather popular with the Royal Family, who use them on visits to various places throughout the Netherlands. In their heydays, 72 Alouettes surved with what used to be the GpLV (Groep Lichte Vliegtuigen = Light Aircraft Group) on various Army support duties like liaison and observation.
Leeuwarden, 1 July 1994.


Bo.105CB B-40
The other light helicopter in KLu service to support the Army is the Bo.105. Introduced in 1976 to replace the last remaining Piper Super Cubs, the original number of 30 Bolkows has now been reduced to 15. Plans to replace the type with another light helicopter now appear to be abandoned. Instead, the Bo.105 will be retired during 2003. Like B-40 in this picture, the Bo.105 fleet has seen service with NATO's Implementation Force in Bosnia. 

Twenthe, 6 July 1996.

AS.532U-2 S-454
The Eurocopter AS.532U-2 Cougar Mk.2, a development of the Super Puma, was chosen as the light transport helicopter for use with 11 Airmobile Brigade. 17 were bought in preference to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. After a troubled start, the Cougar is now firmly in service with 300 sq at Soesterberg. In this picture, S-454 is seen taking off from a soccer field in Groningen.
Groningen, 5 May 2001.

CH-47D D-663
The medium lift helicopter partnering the Cougar is the Boeing CH-47D Chinook. 298 sq at Soesterberg operates a fleet of 13, partly new and partly second hand ones. The used examples, like D-663, are former Canadian Forces CH-147's. They are serialled D-661 through D-667. Furthermore, there are 6 new built ones, D-101 through D-106. In this picture, D-663 is seen putting down Army vehicles during an Airmobile demonstration.
Assen, 24 May 1997.

AB.412SP R-01
The successor to the Alouette III in the Search and Rescue role is the Agusta AB.412SP. Three have been bought by the KLu to equip the SAR Flight at Leeuwarden. Nowadays this unit is known as 303 sq.
In this picture R-01 is seen in it's natural element, over the sea and close to the beach.
Scheveningen, 6 June 1998.

PC.7 L-12
There can be no Air Force without proper training. The function of Primary Training is performed by the excellent Swiss Pilatus PC.7 Turbo Trainer. First introduced in KLu service in 1989, the PC.7 has always flown with EMVO (Elementaire Miltaire Vlieger Opleiding = Elementary Military Pilot School). Some years ago, the unit was assigned the 131 sq numberplate, becoming known as 131 EMVO sq. Initially 10 were bought, serialled L-01 through L-10. L-12 depicted here is part of a follow-on buy of three.

Woensdrecht, 19 October 2000.