The Netherlands is one of the founding members of NATO and from the beginning the Royal Netherlands Air force participated in collective Air Policing (AP) efforts in Europe. Starting from the early 50’s, the Royal Netherlands Air Force used the Gloster Meteor F Mk.4. This aircraft was used from 1948-1957 by the 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327 and 328 squadrons. From 1951- 1958 ,together with the Gloster Meteor F Mk.8, the Royal Netherlands Air Force used a variety of jets as the Gloster Meteor Mk 4/8 until 1979. Then, the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak from 1955 to 1970, and the Hunter Mk 4/6, Lockheed F-104, Northrop NF-5, and F-16.
“In 2007, 3 years after the Baltic States became full-fledged members of NATO, the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s deployed for the first time at Šiauliai Air Base to safeguard the Baltic skies,” stated Lieutenant General Luyt, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. “Throughout the years, the Royal Netherlands Air Force has proven to be a reliable partner together with other allied air forces in support of NATO Operations and Air Policing. That includes the guarding and securing the Baltic airspace 24/7.”
With the accession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, NATO expanded the Air Policing architecture to the Baltic Sea Region and Allies have since deployed fighter jets to protect the skies there. A key component to AP is continued support from all nations. The Netherlands has actively participated in the deterrence mission for over a decade. Under BENELUX Air Policing, the Netherlands, with their close Ally Belgium, has taken turns providing Quick Reaction Alert coverage for the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg since January 1, 2017. The Royal Netherlands Air Force will maintain supporting NATO together with its Allies today and in the future.