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RNLAF sells F-16s to Draken International

6th July 2021 - 15:15 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A RNLAF F-16 deployed against ISIS. (Photo: Netherlands MOD)

As the RNLAF divests itself of the venerable F-16 over the next three years, a number are bound for adversary air specialists, Draken International in the USA.

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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