Koninklijke Luchtmacht

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Koninklijke Luchtmacht

Embleem Koninklijke Luchtmacht.svg

Coat of arms of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht
Lineup July 1913
Country NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
Armed forces Dutch armed forces
Type Armed forces ( air forces )
Strength approx. 7500
Hoofdkwartier shines Breda
Lieutenant-General Dennis Luyt
Aircraft cockade Roundel of the Netherlands, svg Roundel of the Netherlands - Low Visibility - Type 2.svg
Fighter aircraft /
F-16 , F-35 , AH-64
education PC-7
Transport aircraft /
C-130H-30 / C-130H , KDC-10 , Gulfstream IV , CH-47 , AS 332 , NH90 , Dauphin

The Koninklijke Luchtmacht (German: Royal Air Force ) of the Netherlands , KLu for short , is one of the four Dutch armed forces . The air force is led by a lieutenant general, currently Dennis Luyt , and has a strength of about 7,500 people, of which 6,500 are soldiers.



The Royal Air Force is the youngest branch of the Dutch Armed Forces . Initially, the Netherlands only had air units of the army ( Luchtvaartafdeeling or LVA for short ), which were founded in July 1913 at the Soesterberg military airfield. In 1913 this part of the army only had one (borrowed) aircraft in use, the Brik , which was supplemented a few months later by three French Farman . During the First World War (1914-1918) mainly reconnaissance and navigation flights were carried out.

After the end of the war, defense spending was reduced again across Europe, which did not stop at the air forces of the Netherlands. During this time, between the years 1919 and 1940, the first aerobatic team, translated as "five fingers of one hand", was created. The equipment consisted of 56 Fokker CI machines and 20 single-seaters of the Fokker D.VII type , supplemented by a few Fokker C.5s. These machines formed the backbone of the Dutch air force until the German raid in 1940 .

Second World War

During the Second World War (1939–1945), the aircraft equipment of the Dutch Air Force consisted of samples mainly of domestic production. The total of around 140 aircraft were stationed at five bases ( Amsterdam-Schiphol , De Kooy , 's-Gravenhage , Bergen and Rotterdam- Waalhaven) and were mainly subordinate to the Commando Luchtverdedeging ("Command Air Defense"). From 1939 the Dutch leadership had tried to equip its air forces with foreign aircraft types. Most of the aircraft ordered in the USA could not be delivered in time before the German invasion and were forwarded to Great Britain or the Dutch East Indies .

In the first days of the German attack , the Germans succeeded in destroying a large part of the machines stationed in the Netherlands (mainly on the ground), but not without accepting considerable losses themselves. In the Netherlands it was registered that a large number of German planes flew over the country, but it was assumed that in the First World War only the neutrality of the country would be violated here, in order to attack Great Britain in this case; Ultimately, however, this represented the attack on all the airfields on which the Dutch Air Force had deployed their planes. In particular the Fokker D.XXI and Fokker GI turned out to be serious opponents. When the Netherlands surrendered on May 15, only about 25% of their initial inventory was left, the Dutch Air Force itself was able to destroy 345 aircraft, 222 of them Junkers Ju 52 , which at that time made up about 75% of the transport fleet.

The Dutch East Indies colony had its own air forces, the Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger ( ML-KNIL , "Military Aviation of the Royal Dutch-Indian Army "), which were numerically stronger than the air forces in the mother country. The aircraft used in the Dutch East Indies experienced significantly lower losses and continued the fight against Japan in the Pacific War . After the colony was overrun by the armed forces of Japan in March 1942, the remaining Dutch personnel in Australia continued to fight on the side of the Allies and were equipped with mainly American aircraft.

The following tables provide an overview of the equipment used by the Dutch Air Force in World War II:

Stationed in the motherland in spring 1940:

plane Country of origin Type / area of ​​application Construction year available amount
Douglas DB-8 United StatesUnited States United States Light bomber 1934 18th
Fokker CV NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Reconnaissance and ground support 1925 36
Fokker CX NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Reconnaissance and ground support 1933 20th
Fokker D.XXI NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Fighter plane 1936 36
Fokker GI NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Heavy fighter aircraft 1937 27
Fokker TV NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Medium weight bomber 1937 16 (only 9 ready for use)
Fokker T.VIII-W NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Torpedo bombers 1938 11
Koolhoven FK.51 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Training aircraft 1935 59
Koolhoven FK.52 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Reconnaissance and ground support 1937 5

Stationed in the Dutch East Indies from 1940 until the Japanese conquest in the spring of 1942 :

plane Country of origin Type / area of ​​application Construction year available amount
Brewster B-339 United StatesUnited States United States Fighter plane 1939 72
Curtiss H-75 United StatesUnited States United States Fighter plane 1939 20th
Curtiss-Wright CW-21 United StatesUnited States United States Fighter plane 1939 25th
Glenn martin 139 United StatesUnited States United States Medium weight bomber 1932 117
Hawker Hurricane United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Fighter plane 1936 24
Koolhoven FK.51 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Training aircraft 1935 59

Aircraft ordered but not delivered (includes orders for the armed forces in the Netherlands and the colonies):

plane Country of origin Type / area of ​​application Construction year Quantity ordered
Brewster SB2A United StatesUnited States United States Dive bombers 1939 162
Douglas DB-7C United StatesUnited States United States Medium weight bomber 1939 48
Koolhoven FK.58 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Fighter plane 1939 36

After the occupation of the Netherlands, three Dutch squadrons were set up within the Royal Air Force , the 320th, 321st and 322nd squadrons, which were transferred to the Dutch Air Force after the war, the latter still a few after the war ended Time in Wunstorf , is still active today.

Cold War

Video recording of various air force aircraft in 1961. Dutch newsreel.

During the Cold War , the air force of the Netherlands was integrated into the NATO air defense system as part of the Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2ATAF). At that time, aircraft of the type Lockheed F-104 Starfighter were initially used as combat aircraft , in some squadrons also Northrop NF-5 . From 1979 the conversion to the General Dynamics F-16, which is still used today, began . In addition, several air defense units with the HAWK weapon system were set up, which was later modernized with the MIM-104 Patriot system.

After 1990

After the end of the Cold War, the Dutch air force was modernized and military airfields that were no longer needed, such as in Ypenburg, were closed . The fleet of transport aircraft, previously designed for short-haul transports within the Netherlands and to other European countries and equipped with Fokker F-27s for this purpose , was upgraded by purchasing four Hercules transporters. The first crews were stationed in Melsbroek , Belgium, from 1994 to the end of 1995, in order to gain experience from the transport aircraft there. The transport aircraft are now under the control of the European Air Transport Command in Eindhoven.

It was used during Operation Allied Force , Operation Enduring Freedom and the NATO mission in Afghanistan. With its Solo Display Team , the Dutch Air Force has been maintaining an aerobatic team since 1979 , which aims to demonstrate the skills of pilots and the capabilities of the air forces with individual demonstrations of fighter aircraft.

Joint Falcon / Allied Force in Kosovo

The NATO Allied Force mission officially began on March 24, 1999 . Of the more than 37,000 missions flown during the Allied Force , Dutch aviators took on 1,194 (more than 7.5%). Shortly after the start of the operation, a Yugoslav MiG-29 was shot down by a Dutch F-16AM. In later phases, the Dutch Air Force was also involved in air strikes on targets on the ground.

Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO mission in Afghanistan

In October 2002 a multinational squadron of 18 Dutch, Danish and Norwegian F-16s and a Dutch KDC-10 tanker were relocated to Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan . In February 2006 four Dutch and four Norwegian F-16s were combined in the 1st Netherlands-Norwegian European Participating Forces Expeditionary Air Wing (1 NLD / NOR EEAW) . In 2006 the Dutch Air Force took part in the NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan with six F-16s, six Eurocopter Cougars and six AH-64 attack helicopters . On August 31, 2006, a Dutch pilot died when his plane crashed in Helmand .

Future purchases

  • In the future, the F-16 will be replaced by the F-35 from Lockheed Martin , which won a tender against the Eurofighter , the Rafale , the F / A-18 , the F-16E / F and the Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen . 30-36 F-35A are to be bought, the first machine of the new type destined for the Netherlands landed on May 23, 2016 for the first time at the air base in Leeuwarden.
  • The Dutch Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert announced on November 21, 2013 that the Netherlands wanted to procure four MQ-9 drones , which will initially be used from 2017. The drones are said to be unarmed and used for reconnaissance.


Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Netherlands)
Air base Eindhoven
Air base Eindhoven
Gilze-Rijen flight base
Gilze-Rijen flight base
Fleet base Leeuwarden
Fleet base Leeuwarden
Vliegbasis Volkel
Vliegbasis Volkel
Vliegbasis Woensdrecht
Vliegbasis Woensdrecht
Maritiem Vliegkamp De Kooy
Maritiem Vliegkamp De Kooy
Vliegbasis Soesterberg 1911–2008
Vliegbasis Soesterberg
Flight base Twente 1940–2007
Flight base Twente
Militair Luchtvaart Terrein Deelen
Militair Luchtvaart Terrein Deelen
  • Current bases of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht
  • Closed air bases
  • Practice area
  • The headquarters of the air force, known as the Hoofdkwartier luchtmacht , is located in the city ​​of Breda in North Brabant . After the closure of the Twente and Soesterberg air bases in 2007/2008, the Netherlands currently has five major military airfields :

    A smaller place houses the navy on- board helicopters , which, together with the air force, are under a joint command:

    The armed forces use the Vliehors firing range on the island of Vlieland as an indirect base . This is the only area of ​​the Dutch armed forces on which combat aircraft can be trained to attack ground targets. The training takes place in the USA. The 302 Squadron, equipped with AH-64 and a few CH-47s, is stationed in Fort Hood , Texas , and the 148th Fighter Squadron , nominally part of the Arizona Air National Guard in Tucson , trains on the F-16. Transport pilots are also trained in the United States.

    Rank badge

    Crews / NCOs
    OR-1 OR-2 OR-3 OR-4 OR-5 OR-6 OR-7 OR-8 OR-9
    Nl-luchtmacht-soldaat of the 3rd class.svg Nl-luchtmacht-soldier of the 2nd class.svg Nl-luchtmacht-soldaat of the 1st class.svg Nl-luchtmacht-korporaal.svg Nl-luchtmacht-corporal of the 1st class.svg Nl-luchtmacht-sergeant.svg Nl-luchtmacht-sergeant of the 1st class.svg Nl-luchtmacht-sergeant majoor.svg Nl-luchtmacht-adjudant onderofficier.svg
    3rd class soldier 2nd class soldier 1st class soldier Corporal 1st class corporal hall sergeant 1st class sergeant Sergeant-Majoor Adjudant-Onderofficier
    OF (D) OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6 OF-7 OF-8 OF-9
    Nl-luchtmacht-vaandrig.svg Nl-luchtmacht-tweede luitenant.svg Nl-luchtmacht-eerste luitenant.svg Nl-luchtmacht-kapitein.svg Nl-luchtmacht-majoor.svg Nl-luchtmacht-luitenant kolonel.svg Nl-luchtmacht-kolonel.svg Nl-luchtmacht-commodore.svg Nl-luchtmacht-generaal majoor.svg Nl-luchtmacht-luitenant generaal.svg Nl-luchtmacht-generaal.svg
    Vaandrig Tweede Luitenant First-Luitenant Captain Majoor Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Commodore Generaal-Majoor Luitenant-Generaal General

    The rank badges of the Dutch Air Force are adapted to the NATO system and their designation roughly corresponds to the German rank badges. The English name is only used here for the rank of the Commodore , while the German name, which was adopted from the American, is Brigadier General .

    The highest rank a soldier can achieve in the air force is that of the Luitenant-Generaal in the position of Commandant Luchtstrijdkrachten , comparable to the inspector of the air force in the Bundeswehr.

    Current equipment

    Status: end of 2013


    Aircraft photo origin use version active Procured Remarks
    Fokker F-16 Fighting Falcon Dutch F-16 performing in Kecskemet corr1.jpg NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands / United States
    United StatesUnited States 
    Multipurpose fighter F-16AM 65 213 will be replaced by F-35
    Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Aankomst F-35 Leeuwarden-4.jpg United StatesUnited States United States Multipurpose fighter F-35A 10 36 52 planned
    MQ-9 Reaper United StatesUnited States United States AUV MQ-9 4th Delivery planned for 2020
    Transport and tanker aircraft
    Lockheed C-130 Hercules G-273C-130H-30 334 Squadron Koninklijke Luchtmacht landing at Waddington (3399027454) .jpg United StatesUnited States United States Military transporter C-130H




    McDonnell Douglas DC-10 F-16 Vipers NL Air Force Days (9323098356) .jpg United StatesUnited States United States Tanker and transport aircraft 2 To be replaced by the A330 MRTT in 2020
    Airbus A330 MRTT EuropeEurope Europe Tanker and transport aircraft 2
    Gulfstream IV Gulfstream IV RNLAF.jpg United StatesUnited States United States VIP transportation 1 Replacement planned for 2020
    Training aircraft
    Fokker F-16 Fighting Falcon General Dynamics (Fokker) F-16B Fighting Falcon (401), Netherlands - Air Force AN0854829.jpg NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands / United States
    United StatesUnited States 
    two-seat fighter aircraft F-16BM 9 36
    Pilatus PC-7 "Turbo Trainer" Pc-7-lesvgende-in-de-lucht.jpg SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland Training aircraft 13 13

    As part of the Strategic Airlift Capability Program, the Netherlands and the other participating countries also operate three C-17 Globemaster IIIs that can be used for strategic military air transport.

    Helicopter command

    After Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down , the government announced in September 2014 that it would order three more CH-47F Chinooks and reactivate some decommissioned AS-532U2 Cougars.

    Aircraft photo origin use version active Ordered Remarks
    Boeing AH-64 Apache A2488-Netherlands-Apache-Q-16-RIAT2013.JPG United StatesUnited States United States Attack helicopter AH-64D 28 Upgrade to the AH-64E variant 2023
    Aérospatiale AS532U2 Cougar Mk2 Eurocopter AS-532U2 Cougar Mk2, Netherlands - Air Force AN1748533.jpg FranceFrance France Transport helicopter 12 Special Operations Air Support
    Boeing CH-47 Chinook Chinook.ch-47d.d-101.rnethaf.arp.jpg United StatesUnited States United States Heavy transport helicopter CH-47D
    CH-47F (NL)

    2021 standardized on 20 CH-47F
    NHIndustries NH90 NFH90.JPG European UnionEuropean Union European Union Board helicopter NH90 NFH 20th Eight machines are from the 300th Squadron operated the Air Force and twelve of the 860th Squadron of the Navy
    Eurocopter Dauphin 2 Eurocopter AS-365N-3 Dauphin 2, NHV - Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen AN1783921.jpg FranceFrance France Search and rescue 3 Used by the Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen on behalf of the Coast Guard.

    See also

    Web links

    Commons : Dutch Air Force  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. Vliegbases en luchtmachtonderdelen. In: Koninklijke Luchtmacht. Retrieved October 29, 2016 (Dutch).
    2. ^ A b c d Mozes W. Weers: Military Affairs Abroad - Seventy Years of Netherlands Air Force History. In: Air University Review. May 1985, accessed October 29, 2016 .
    3. Waroverholland.nl - English-language page on the subject
    4. Short (English) article about the Royal Dutch-Indian Air Force ML-KNIL ( Memento from March 24, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (DOC file; 25 kB)
    5. Bomber ( Memento from December 28, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) on ATT.net
    6. ^ Royal Netherlands Air Force History. In: Milavia.net. Retrieved October 29, 2016 .
    7. ^ Mark Ayton: Black Bulls Business . In: Air International . No. 11 . Key Publishing, November 2016, ISSN  0306-5634 , p. 50-53 (English).
    8. Holland will further reduce F-35 procurement target . In: FliegerWeb.com. April 3, 2013, accessed November 6, 2013.
    9. ^ Marcel van Leeuwen: First F-35 Lightning II's of Dutch Air Force landing at Leeuwarden AFB. In: Aviationnews.eu. May 23, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016 .
    10. Netherlands to buy 4 Reaper drones. Retrieved April 28, 2017 (English).
    11. ^ RNLAF reforms squadron to operate Reapers, Janes, September 17, 2018
    12. Anno Gravemaker: Dutch F-16 pilot strafes range control tower . In: Flightglobal.com. November 6, 2013, accessed on November 6, 2013: “The Royal Netherlands Air Force has launched an investigation after a Lockheed Martin F-16AM pilot accidentally strafed the control tower at the Vliehors range on the island of Vlieland during a training flight on 4 November. [...] Located to the north of the Netherlands, the Vliehors range is the only facility in the country where the air force can conduct live-fire training. "
    13. World Air Forces 2014 (PDF; 3.9 MB) ( Memento from February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
    14. ↑ The Netherlands take over their last NH90. Flug Revue, June 15, 2016, accessed July 12, 2016 .
    15. NH90-maritime helicopter. Koninklijke Luchtmacht, accessed on April 13, 2019 .
    16. Airliners.net OO-NHU , photo accessed June 15, 2014.