End of An Era: Dutch F-16s Complete Their Last QRA Mission, Hand Over Task To F-35

Last F-16 QRA

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Last F-16 QRA
One of many two RNLAF F-16 launches for the final QRA on Mar. 28, 2024 (Picture credit score: Dutch MOD)

The RNLAF F-16s have carried out their final Fast Response Alert obligation after 43 years of alert obligation.

On Mar. 29, 2024, the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 jets have carried out their final QRA mission closing an period that had began in 1981. Starting this morning, the air protection of the airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX) has been handed over to the brand new Dutch F-35A fifth era plane.

The RNLAF and BAF (Belgian Air Power) share the duty of guaranteeing the air policing of BENELUX airspace, alternately for a variety of months. The BAF will take over the duty on Might 9; from right now, till then, the RNLAF will perform the QRA duties with the F-35A, stationed at Leeuwarden and Volkel Air Base.

The top of the alert obligation marks yet one more step in direction of retirement for the Dutch Vipers (because the F-16s of all variants are generally nicknamed within the fighter pilot group), a milestone that was marked with the final T-Scramble (“Tango” scramble, for Coaching functions), launched by the QRA cell at Volkel Air Base on March 28, to intercept two Dutch F-16s.

Little will change for the pilots now that solely F-35s might be used. They nonetheless need to be prepared in the identical manner. “The circumstances stay the identical,” says Main Nick, the squadron’s deputy chief of operations in a public assertion. “The F-35 is above all a extra trendy platform, which makes issues simpler. The plane can fly longer and has higher sensors. The F-35 sends the suitable sign to the enemy.”

Though it’s not a “pure” interceptor, many NATO nations already present QRA (Fast Response Alert) with the F-35, with the Italian Air Power and the Royal Norwegian Air Power being amongst people who first dedicated the fifth era plane for air policing mission below NATO command.

Final QRA for the RNLAF F-16. (Picture credit score: Dutch MOD)

The retirement of the RNLAF F-16s progresses because the Netherlands leads the EFTC European F-16 Coaching Centre at Baza 86 Aeriana Fetesti in Romania, and made 12 to 18 F-16s (which is able to stay property of the Dutch authorities) out there for this objective.

Introduced in August 2023 by Lockheed Martin and the governments of Romania and the Netherlands, the EFTC improve mission readiness by means of comprehensive F-16 training solution for Romanian and Ukrainian pilots, in addition to different regional F-16 operators.

David Cenciotti is a journalist primarily based in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and skim navy aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and plenty of others, protecting aviation, protection, warfare, trade, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with completely different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Power, a non-public pilot and a graduate in Pc Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.



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