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RNLAF sells F-16s to Draken International
With the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) now having initiated its End Life Of Type (ELOT) programme for its F-16AM aircraft, a major milestone has been reached with an agreement to sell 12 aircraft to Lakeland, Florida-based Draken International.
Draken International provides Red Air aggressor services to the US and overseas air forces with its fleet of A-4, Mirage F-1, L-39 and MB-339 aircraft.
The deal was announced by the Netherlands MoD on 29 June and includes an option for the sale of a further 28 aircraft.
The RNLAF has also sold one aircraft to Belgium to be used as a weapons trainer to support the Belgium Air Component’s current fleet of 12 active F-16s.
As part of the ELOT process, F-16s left Leeuwarden for Volkel airbase and this has now become the RNLAF’s main operating base for their F-16AMs. Withdrawal from service for the remaining aircraft will start in 2022 with the last aircraft set to leave in 2024.
The RNLAF’s F-16 experience highlights the reduction in the capabilities of NATO’s European air arms. According to Shephard Defence Insight, a total of 213 F-16s were once operated by the RNLAF; these are being replaced by 46 F-35As.
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