Since 1981, Dutch F-16 fighter aircraft have been on permanent Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) standby. That era has come to an end today at Volkel Air Base. Guarding the airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg has been in the hands of 2 Dutch F-35s since this morning.

Dutch F-35s are now fully responsible for QRA. For the F-16s, it means another step toward the final end. Defense has been phasing out the F-16 aircraft for some time.

Royal Netherland Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs are stationed at Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases. Responding adequately to violations of Benelux airspace is part of the Air Force’s core mission.

The Netherlands and Belgium take on these tasks alternately for several months. On May 9, it will be the Belgians’ turn again with the F-16s.

Photo Jeroen Vogelaar

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