The first four Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs arrived at Volkel Air Base (AB) in the south of the Netherlands on June 30.
This arrival of the fifth-generation jets presented multiple milestones for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). As well as being the first-time home-based F-35As touched down at Volkel AB, the resurrection of 313 Squadron was also a major milestone reached during the arrival. 313 Squadron is a NATO tiger unit which prior to its temporary disbandment in December 2020, operated the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Volkel AB will now be a multi-platform base with 312 squadron operating the F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons and 313 operating the F-35A. No 312 Squadron is due to receive its F-35s in 2024.
F-020, F-0023, F-024 and F-025 were the serials that arrived from Cameri air base in Italy. Squadron commander of 313, Neils Van Hussen flew F-024 during the four-ship formation arrival and told Key.Aero: “Yesterday was an important milestone in the history of the 313 Squadron and Volkel AB.
“The 313 Squadron was put into hibernation in 2020 to work up to the new fighter aircraft. We then started preparations with a small team to build up the squadron. Some of these preparations took place at the 322 Squadron at Leeuwarden Air Base. There we educated and trained our first people, embedded within the unit. Our first four aircraft also arrived at Leeuwarden from the FACO at Cameri, until we could move with four F-35's to Volkel AB to start the operation independently. We made that important step yesterday.
Van Hussen added: “For 313 Squadron this meant a re-activation of the unit. For Volkel AB, it meant the beginning of operations with the fifth-generation weapon system. A crucial step for the Dutch Air Force to grow to Full Operational Capable, foreseen in 2024.”