Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35s Arrive in Air Combat Command Volkel Air Base
Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35s Arrive in Air Combat Command Volkel Air Base

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35s Arrive in Air Combat Command Volkel Air Base

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) redeployed four of their F-35 fighter aircraft to Volkel Air Base and established a new Air Combat Command re-organising its air command and control arrangements. The first four modern F-35 fighter aircraft landed at Volkel Air Base on June 30, 2022, marking the re-establishment of the their 313 Squadron as a fifth-generation fighter unit. At the same time, the Royal Netherlands Air Force stood up a new Air Combat Command (ACC), which is comprised of the two operational fighter bases at Leeuwarden in the north and Volkel in the south and Air Operations Control Station (AOCS) based at Nieuw-Milligen in the centre of the Netherlands. During a ceremony, the first commander of new Air Combat Command, Commodore Johan van Deventer, received the command banner form the Royal Netherlands Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt.

“We operate from three locations, with 13 squadrons, as one information driven team within the new Royal Netherlands Air Force command structure. By delegating responsibilities to lower levels we increase our agility enabling quick adjustments to the rapidly changing operational environment. I’m very proud of this 2000-strong team of ACC that deliver our 5th generation Airpower to NATO – whenever and wherever needed,” Commodore van Devent said.

“Establishing the ACC is an important step towards our 5th gen Air Force. Within this new organization we join the combat capability of all our F-35s, F-16s, MQ-9s, Air Battle Management, Targeting, and Datalink management under one Commander,” said Air Commodore van Deventer.

The newly created Netherlands Air Combat Command is comprised of the fighter capability and the command and control overhead creating agile organsiational structures.(Photo by Royal Netherlands Air Force)

Its traditional home base at Volkel, the Royal Netherlands Air Force 313 squadron is the Dutch Tiger squadron, present at many NATO Tiger Meets throughout the years. When it was temporarily de-activated as an F-16 squadron in December 2020, pilots and ground crews converted to the 5th generation F-35 fighter aircraft at Leeuwarden Air Base. With the official arrival of the F-35s, Volkel Air Base now has two squadrons with two jet fighter types: 312 squadron flying the F-16 and 313 squadron flying the F-35. For the next two years, 312 squadron will keep on flying the F-16, and after retirement of this aircraft type, they will convert to the F-35. Volkel Air Base (Vliegbasis Volkel) is a military airbase used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force and is located near the village of Volkel in North Brabant, Netherlands.

The Netherlands was the second international partner to receive the F-35, and continues to serve as a key contributor to the production and sustainment of the F-35 Lightning II advanced fighter. The Dutch are making plans to add to their F-35 fleet to increase the nation’s capability and capacity to engage in allied operations. The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) operates the F-35A. The Dutch program of record is for 46 aircraft. More than 25 suppliers from across Dutch industry are participating in critical technology development and strategic structural design ventures integral to the F-35 program, along with high-volume production, which includes composites, bonded assemblies, and aircraft wiring. The first F-35 RNLAF squadron operates out of Leeuwarden Air Base. In the future, Volkel Air Base will also be home to F-35s.

On June 30, 2022 four Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 modern fighter aircraft arrived at Volkel re-instating 313 Squadron and continuing the NATO Tiger history. (Photo by Joris van Boven/NATO SHAPE)