Royal Netherlands Air Force

Military Aviation

Roundel of the Royal Netherlands Air Force      

The Royal Netherlands Air Force is the military aviation element of the armed forces. It is directed by the Air Force Staff at the Royal Netherlands Air Force Command Headquarters in Breda. The Air Force Command is headed by the Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force who reports directly to the Chief of the Netherlands Defence Staff. 

The mission of the Royal Netherlands Air Force is:

  • to provide and maintain air superiority over the territories of the Kingdom and NATO.
  • to provide close air support to the different branches of the armed forces.
  • to provide, under guidance of NATO or the United Nations, support in international conflicts.
  • to airlift military personnel and materiel to wherever needed.
  • to support civil authorities in maintaining order, fighting natural disasters and providing humanitatian aid, both in and outside the Kingdom.
  • to conduct rescue operations at sea and medevac missions from ships and from the Wadden Islets.
  • to deploy patrol aircraft for coastguard duties.
  • to contribute to a save, orderly and smooth conduct of air traffic above the Netherlands.

Royal Netherlands Air Force Bases

Leeuwarden Air Base

Leeuwarden Air Base, located in the provence Friesland, north west of the town Leeuwarden, is one of two F-16 Main Operating Bases of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.The mission of the 322th and 323th F-16 squadrons, stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base, is to provide air defence as well as close air support. Furthermore, the 323th is the Tactical Training, Evaluation & Standardisation Squadron, responsible for the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training. Participants in this six months international training program are the Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Belgium and Portuguese Air Forces.The 303th squadron, consisting of three AB-412SP Search And Rescue helicopters and 30 personnel, is stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base. Its mission is to rescue pilots and people in general from the North Sea and Wadden Sea, to airlift patients from the West Frisian Islands and from ships to hospitals on the mainland, to support the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Association, to evacuate personel from oil platforms and to search missing persons over sea and over land. Due to modern avionics, the AB-412SP can operate in adverse weather conditions.Air base operations and support is conducted by the 920th, 921th and 922th squadrons. The 920th squadron provides the maintainance of the F-16s, trucks, vehicles, communication and information systems and electronic ground equipment. Logistics of Leeuwarden Air Base and its F-16 squadrons is handled by the 921th squadron. This includes the task of refueling the F-16s and the storage, transport and assembly of weapons and ammo. The 922th squadron guards the base and its F-16s, also on missions, and is tasked with air traffic control, firefighting and meteorology.

      Leeuwarden Air Base is located in the provence Friesland while the other air bases and the Royal Netherlands Air Force Command Headquarters are all located in the provence North Brabant. The location of the Wadden Sea can also be found on this map.

Volkel Air Base

Volkel Air Base, located in the municipality Uden in the provence North Brabant, is the other one of two F-16 Main Operating Bases of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

The 311th, 312th and 313th squadrons are F-16 squadrons stationed at Volkel Air Base. The 312th and 313th squadrons are combat ready to provide air defence and close air support. Pilots of the 312th and 313th squadrons have four flightsimulators at their disposal to help them train their skills. Due to cutbacks, the 311th squadron is to be disbanded under the Rutte cabinet.

The 604th, 900th and 901th squadrons are stationed at Volkel Air Base to support the F-16 squadrons on the base and on missions. The 640th squadron, consisting of over 400 personnel, is the largest operational squadron in the Royal Netherlands Air Force and guards Volkel Air Base and its F-16 squadrons. Furthermore it takes care of airport security, air trafic control, meteorology, firefighting, training of its own personnel and bird control. The 900th squadron is responsible for the inspections and modifications of and repairs on the F-16s and the fire arms used on the base. The 901th squadron is responsable for logistics, transport and communication and information systems. All the materiel needed, the spare parts, fuel, ammo, clothes and tools, are collected and transported to the theatre of operations.

The 601th squadron is the military reserve force of Volkel Air Base.

All helcipoters of the Defence Helicopter Command together; the Chinook, NH-90, Apache, AB-412SP, Cougar, Lynx and Alouette III.       

Gilze-Rijen Air Base

Gilze-Rijen Air Base, located in the municipality Gilze en Rijen in the provence North Brabant, is the main base of the Defence Helicopter Command. The Defence Helicopter Command comprises all the helicopter squadrons in the armed forces and its task is to supply helicopter support to all branches of the armed forces including the Airmobile Brigade, Commando Corps and Marine Corps. Also, the Defence Helicopter Command supports missions of the United Nations and NATO. With the exception of the NH-90 and the Lynx, stationed at Naval Air Station De Kooy, and the AB-412, stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base, all helicopters in the Defence Helicopter Command are stationed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base.

The teeth of the Defence Helicopter Command are the Apache AH-64D Longbow attack helicopters. The Apache, assigned to the 301th squadron and stationed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base, is a highly manouverable, all-weather multirole attack helicopter and is equipped with advanced avionics and weapon systems.

The Chinook CH-47D transport helicopters, assigned to the 298th squadron, are used to transport materiel and personnel. The AS-532U2 Cougar MK II transport helicopters, assigned to the 300th squadron, are also used to transport materiel and personnel. Due to cutbacks under the Rutte cabinet most of the Cougars are grounded and the intention is to sell all or at least some of them. Also assigned to the 300th squadron is the Alouette III which is used primarily to conduct VIP flights. The Chinook, Cougar and Alouette III helicopters are stationed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base.

The helicopter squadrons are in many ways supported by other squadrons which are also stationed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. The 299th squadron provides training and education for the helicopter crews, using helicopters of the 298th, 300th and 301th squadrons and an Apache flight simulator. The 930the squadron arranges the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the helicopters. The 931th squadron provides platform tasks which include air traffic control, firefighting, meteorology, airport security, sports programs and medical services. The 932th squadron handles the logistics which includes provision, storage and transport of fuel, spare parts and clothing.

Eindhoven Air Base

The transport fleet is stationed at Eindhoven Air Base, located in the municipality Eindhoven in the provence North Brabant. The base has an important civil co-user; Eindhoven Airport. Approximately 860 personnel are employed at this base.

The Gulfstream IV, Fokker 50 and DC-10 transport aircraft, as well as the KDC-10 flying fuelling station are assigned to the 334th squadron. The 334th squadron is tasked with air transport missions including paradroppings and refueling flights, humanitarian aid, trainings missions and flights for the Royal House and VIPs.

The Hercules transport aircraft are assigned to the 336th squadron. The 336th is tasked with air transport, medevac and training missions and missions for the UN and for humanitarian aid.

The 940th and 941th squadrons are stationed at Eindhoven Air Base to support the transport fleet and to run the base. The 940th squadron handles the logistics for the 334th and 941th squadrons and arranges the maintainance of the vehicles, loading equipment and communication and information systems. The 941th squadron handles air traffic control, firefighting, meteorology and airport security. The 941th uses dog units to guard the base and to seach for explosives.