The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s detachment of eight Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM Fighting Falcon jets that will be tasked with bombing positions of the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIS / ISIL) in Iraq is at full strength in Jordan.
Although officially not confirmed, it is believed the Dutch joined the Belgian detachment of six F-16s at likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq. The vast base with two main runways is also home to the Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s of 1, 2 and 6 Squadron. It is located approximately 140 miles (230 km) west of the Iraqi border, or 50 miles (80 km) from the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Both main fighter bases of the Netherlands, Volkel and Leeuwarden, contribute four aircraft to the operation. Three Leeuwarden jets left earlier this week, while the remaining five joined on 3 October 2014, after take-off from Volkel in the south of the country. Both flights were refuelled in mid-air by a RNLAF KDC-10 from Eindhoven Airbase.
At any given time the Koninklijke Luchtmacht, as the RNLAF is known in Dutch, will task only a maximum of six F-16s to the operations to bomb ISIS position or provide air support to Kurdish and Iraqi fighters on the ground. The remaining two will be held in reserve. The Hague expects a lengthy mission, as the Ministry of Defence already says that initially the Dutch deployment might last at a year.
Like the Belgian detachment the RNLAF jets will likely first make familiarisation and reconnaissance sorties before they will fly their first attack mission somewhere next week. The Belgian Air Component vipers made a stop-over at Araxos in Greece, before finalizing their ferry flight to Jordan. Denmark also deployed F-16s – seven in total (4 operational, 3 reserve) – to the region, but those aircraft will be based in Kuwait. The Danish detachment will be fully up and running at 4 or 5 October.
The Southwest Asia deployment is the second foreign operation of RNLAF F-16s run at the same time, as five Dutch Fighting Falcons are currently attached to the Baltic Air Policing mission at Malbork in Poland.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger