The Netherlands will sell twelve of its surplus F-16 fighter jets belonging to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) to Draken International, the Defense Secretary of State Barbara Visser announced to the Dutch parliament in a letter. The twelve F-16s will be retired from 2022, with 28 more, to be withdrawn in phases in the following years. On July 1, 2021, the F-16s based in Leeuwarden Air Base will officially retire, with pilots and technicians moving to Volkel Air Base from where the aircraft will continue to operate until 2024.
The equipment is in used condition and is sold and transferred in the state in which it is currently in. The Ministry of Defence does disassemble a number of things prior to the transfer. The drawing of the contract will take place in mid-2021 and the transfer is planned from 2022. The phasing out plan for the F-16 aircraft is leading in the transfer of all aircraft, even if the phasing out plan is delayed and the end date of the F-16 is pushed back. Within the F-16 End Life of Type (ELOT) program, one other F-16 has already been sold to Belgium.
The Netherlands made substantial orders for the F-16, and built aircraft at the Fokker plant. Deliveries started in 1979 and ended in 1992. A total of 102 aircraft were initially ordered, but these were followed by substantial follow-on orders for a total of 111 additional aircraft. 52 of these were F-16A/B-15OCU aircraft. These orders brought total Dutch F-16A/B deliveries to 213. 108 of them received the Mid-Life-Update (MLU). The Royal Netherlands Air Force (KLu) is progressively replacing its F-16s, in service since 1979, with the F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter.
The US-based company will use the aircraft as “aggressors” during training exercises for the U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots. Draken International is among the seven companies that were awarded $.6.4 billion worth of contracts by the Pentagon in October 2019 to provide realistic training to the US Air Force. The company previously purchased 22 Mirage F1s which previously served within the Spanish Air Force. The role of the private fighter fleet is to offer an opponent during the training of the United States Air Force fighter pilots.