Gert Kromhout visits No 312 Squadron, the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s only fully operational fighter unit and sole remaining employer of the F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcon, as it prepares to transition to the F-35A Lightning II
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) purchased 213 General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcons in total, with deliveries starting in 1979 and concluding in 1992. In its heyday, this highly capable multi-role fighter equipped nine RNLAF squadrons.
Today, No 312 Squadron at Volkel Air Base is the last of these nine units to fly the type nicknamed ‘Viper’ and it is also currently the only fully operational fighter squadron in the RNLAF. The unit’s transition to the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter is due to start in 2024, but in the meantime, the squadron has two very important missions to perform.