Air Force

Motto: "One team, one mission!" The main features of the Royal Air Force are: guaranteed commitment, (inter)national cooperation (UN, NATO, ad hoc coalitions, etc.), innovative techniques and tactics, a "flat" organization, great flexibility and enthusiastic and skilled personnel. 


  • provide global clout from the air where and when the Government requires;
  • obtaining and maintaining air superiority with all available weapons;
  • creating freedom of action on land and at sea by means of air operations;
  • conducting air reconnaissance operations;
  • conducting international crisis management and humanitarian operations;
  • contribute to the preservation of international law by threatening of deployment or if necessary by actual deployment of the Air Force weapon. 


  • Fighters

The future output of all military operations is only feasible with the support of fighter aircraft. 68 F-16 fighter aircrafts, which are stationed at two air bases in the Netherlands (Leeuwarden and Volkel) and an air base in the United States (Tucson, Arizona, for training), together form the main weapon of the Air Force. Air defense missions, missions to support the Army and the Navy and air missions are realized with these fighters. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, there are two devices on standby to ensure the security and integrity of the Dutch airspace. Since 1993, the F-16s deployed almost continuously have been supporting various operations abroad (such as in former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya). The Dutch business participates in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), an advanced multirole device of the 5th generation. The operational F-16s (in business since 1979) are after more than 30 years of intensive use by the end of their operational, economic and technical careers. The decision to purchase replacement aircraft is taken late 2013, according to the most recent government agreement. 

  • Helicopters

The Defence Helicopter Command (DHC) includes all air and maritime helicopters of the Royal Air Force and is responsible for the Chief of Defence placed in the Air Force Command. The DHC operates from multiple locations: Gilze-Rijen, Naval Air Station De Kooy, Leeuwarden Air Base and Fort Hood, Texas, United States (for training). The mission of these helicopters is extremely diverse. There are Rescue Helicopters which mainly carry out life-saving operations and patient transport flights (AB-412 and NH-90) above the North Sea and Wadden Sea. Also, a very important part are the light and medium transport helicopters (Alouette III, Cougar and Chinook). Due to the flexibility to transport goods and soldiers through the air, these aircraft are indispensable during all military operations. Even in peacetime, these helicopters have important tasks, such as deployment for fire fighting. The armed helicopters (Apache) are by far the preferred means to provide observation and combat support, in short proximity of ground and maritime operations. In recent years, the operational deployment of the helicopters of the DHC is realized in former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and for combating piracy operations off the coast of Africa and Asia. 

  • Transport aircrafts

In the first place, the transport capacity of the Air Force consists of three major airlift aircraft, (K)DC-10, for strategic long distance airlift. Two of them can also be used as tanker aircraft to provide other aircraft in the air with fuel. For shorter tactical airlift, the Air Force has four C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Finally the VIP transport aircraft, the Gulfstream, is assigned to the Air Force. This is used both by the royal family, the ministers and other senior officials and military. Also a memorandum of understanding has been signed with a number of NATO countries for the establishment of the Strategic Airlift Capacity (SAC), which is operated upon in NATO connection for the next 30 years with three very large C-17 transport aircraft from an air base in Hungary. The NATO Airlift Management Agency (NAMA) is responsible for all maintenance of these devices, which is carried out by Boeing. All air transport aircraft of the Air Force receive their orders from the European Airtransport Command (EATC), which coordinates and prepares all French, German, Belgian and Dutch commands from the Eindhoven Air Base. 

  • Command and control

The integrated tactical command and control, the combat and Management of the Air Force in Dutch Airspace, is arranged from the command center in Nieuw-Milligen (the Veluwe). These tasks are regularly carried out by the so-called flying command centers (AWACS aircraft) in deployment of Air Force weapon systems during operations abroad. In peacetime the AWACS are stationed at the Horny Gelsenkirchen airbase in Germany, near the border with South Limburg.   

  • Training and Logistics

The internal Air Force Training is provided by the Royal Air Force Military School at Woensdrecht Airbase. That is also the establishment of the Logistics Center, where (among others) major repairs and modifications to the (flying) weapon systems are executed.

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