Tag Archives: F-16

The hours

An US Air Force F-16D seen at Luke Air Force Base in October 2000. This is a similar aircraft to the US F-16 that hit 7,238 flying hours, many more then any Dutch F-16 has ever clocked. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
An US Air Force F-16D seen at Luke Air Force Base in October 2000. This is a similar aircraft to the US F-16 that hit 7,238 flying hours, many more than any Dutch F-16 has ever clocked. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

There is an ongoing shady discussion in the Netherlands about a speedy replacement of the current F-16s with spankin’ new F-35A Lightnings. Shady, because it partly revolves around the number of flying hours the F-16s clocked up so far. We crunch some numbers and find out some numbers are far more impressive than others.

Just take a quick look at this stuff, the answer of the Dutch Ministry of Defence on questions from Dutch parliament about the number of flying hours per Dutch F-16. It shows that the aircraft with registration J-637 is the champion of all, having flown 4,893 flying hours already by December 2011. That’s a lot … Until we read this, about an USAF F-16 that happily flew 7,238 hours. This is stuff we love!

Yearly, each Dutch F-16 spends 180 hours in the air – give or take a few hours – so our hero J-637 now probably has over 5,000 flying hours. The Dutch MoD claims that its Fighting Falcons are getting old and require more and more maintenance.

Sounds logical. But why then is an American F-16 of similar age – the US high-flyer was delivered in 1984, while J-637 was delivered the year before – capable of spending 7,238 hours in the air while the Dutch fighters apparently start falling apart after 4,500 hours or so. Upgrades such as Pacer SLIP and Falcon Up should have prolonged service life beyond 6,000 flying hours, and have been costing the Dutch taxpayers millions and millions of euros. A service life of 8,000 hours was even mentioned back then. Recent updates to newer US aircraft even go as far as to give 10,000 hours of life for each airframe.

The usual argument is that Dutch F-16s were used more extensively then originally planned, for example during operations over Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. That’s probably true, although a lot of flying time is actually spent high up in the air, waiting for the close-air-support call or just looking for a tanker. Not exactly the most stressfull situation for any airframe. And still: the US high-flyer spent most of its years in the hands of inexperienced trainee pilots at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. That’s a lot of hard landings, bumpy rides and mishandling. And besides that, a day at the fence of Luke shows based F-16s flying around with the same heavy weaponry that supposedly stressed out the Dutch Vipers all these years. For the record, Dutch F-16 J-015 – the current demo aircraft – only has 3,500 hours or so at this moment.

The Norwegians and the Danish – not to mention the Israelis (how about their flying hours?) – are still happily flying their oldest vintage 1978 F-16s, while the Dutch put those aside more than a decade ago, stripping them for parts and throwing the remains in the bin.

Dutch F-16AM J-254 was taken out of service years ago and clocked up a number flying hours that almost certain wasn' t anywhere close to 7,238 hours. The aircraft's tail number is not mentioned in the Dutch MoD documents, because it is not operational anymore.  (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Dutch F-16AM J-254 was taken out of service years ago and clocked up a number flying hours that almost certain wasn’t anywhere close to 7,238 hours. The aircraft’s tail number is not mentioned in the Dutch MoD documents, because this aircraft is not operational anymore. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Americans know how to treat an aircraft that fulfilled its task. Their high-flyers are resting in the Arizona desert, having done their job. We will not mention that even those aircraft will return to the sky as QF-16s, clocking up even more hours, only to be finally shot to pieces as live targets. How’s that for scrapping?

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

Check out the Royal Netherlands Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl

Belgian Air Component 5 years in Afghanistan

Belgian Air Component video of operation Guardian Falcon at Kandahar, Afghanistan (via Defensie/BAC)
Belgian Air Component video of operation Guardian Falcon at Kandahar, Afghanistan (via Defensie/BAC)

WITH VIDEO | The Belgian Air Component (BAC) has been taking part in operation Guardian Falcon in Afghanistan for almost five years now. Six BAC F-16 fighter aircraft operate daily from Kandahar Airfield (KAF), supported by a hundred ground troops from Belgium and Luxemburg.

Guardian Falcon is supporting the operations of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Belgian F-16s support ground forces, secure communication lines and fly reconnaissance missions, explains the Belgian detachment commander Sam in the BAC’s YouTube video (in Dutch and French):

Source: Belgian Air Component

Check out the Belgian Air Component Orbat at Scramble.nl

Overview: Royal Norwegian Air Force

Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) (Luftforsvaret) status as of 22 December 2015
(© 2014 Airheadsfly.com, source information: Forsvaret. Featured image: Cool ‘selfie’ from a RNoAF F-16 pilot while flying over Indre-Troms (Image © Forsvarets mediesenter))

>>> Check out our continuing news stream on the Royal Norwegian Air Force

Active number of aircraft: 117

  • 2x Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter
  • 50x Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter
  • 4x Lockheed P-3C UIP Orion maritime patrol aircraft
  • 2x Lockheed P-3N Orion maritime patrol aircraft
  • 4x Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules tactical transport aircraft
  • 2x Dassault DA-20 Jet Falcon electronic warfare aircraft
  • 1x Dassault DA-20 Jet Falcon VIP transport aircraft
  • 18x Bell 412SP utility & transport helicopter
  • 6x NHI NH90 helicopter for coast guard duties and as shipborne anti-submarine / anti-ship and naval support
  • 12x Westland Sea King Mk 43 search-and-rescue helicopter
  • 16x Saab MFI-15 Safari basic training aircraft

Aircraft ordered

  • 20x Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealty multi-role fighters. Total requirement 52. First two aircraft delivered in 2015 to Luke AFB, no. 3 and 4 in 2016 and then 6 aircraft every year in the years that follow. F-35s will replace F-16s.
  • 8x NHI NH90 helicopter for coast guard duties and as shipborne anti-submarine / anti-ship and naval support
  • 16x AgustaWestland AW101, first deliveries planned in 2017. Will replace Sea Kings.

Airbases (Flystasjon): 8

Reserve bases and secondary fields: 9

    • Banak Lakselv
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Andøya/Andenes (133 Luftving)
      • P-3 (333 skvadron)
    • Bardufoss (139 Luftving)
      • Bell 412SP (339 skvadron)
      • Lynx Mk 86 (337 skvadron)
      • MFI-15 Safari (Luftforsvarets flygeskole)
      • NH-90 (operational test & evaluation / 334 skvadron)
    • Bodø (132 Luftving, Huvudflystasjon (Main Air Base))
      • F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon (331/332 skvadron)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Ørland (138 Luftving, Huvudflystasjon (Main Air Base))
      • F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon (338 skvadron)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Gardermoen (135 Luftving)
      • C-130J Hercules (335 skvadron)
      • DA-20 Jet Falcon (717 skvadron)
    • Rygge (under command of 139 Luftving (Bardufoss))
      • Bell 412SP (720 skvadron)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Sola (137 Luftving, avd Sola)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron main base)
      • Alert operation base for F-16s
      • NATO tanker aircraft airbase Northern Europe
    • Luke AFB, Arizona, USA (F-35 training unit)
      • F-35A (2 aircraft in 2015, 4 in 2016, 7 aircraft in 2017/2018)

    >>> Check out our continuing news stream on the Royal Norwegian Air Force

    Shooting Range (aka very nice shots)

    A 4-pack formation of RNoAF F-16 fighters in a narrow fjord during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    A 4-pack formation of RNoAF F-16 fighters in a narrow fjord during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    A RNoAF P-3C Orion from 333 squadron during the DV-day under the winter exercise Cold Response 2012 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    A RNoAF P-3C Orion from 333 squadron during the DV-day under the winter exercise Cold Response 2012 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    The latest Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules that was delivered as attrition to the one lossed in Sweden. (Image © Lockheed Martin)
    The latest Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules that was delivered as attrition to the one lossed in Sweden. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

    A Royal Norwegian Air Force Dassault DA-20 Falcon in flight (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets Mediecenter)
    A Royal Norwegian Air Force Dassault DA-20 Falcon in flight (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets Mediecenter)

    RNoAF Bell 412SP with serial 167 coming in low, sporting Gatling guns on both sides of the aircraft (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    RNoAF Bell 412SP with serial 167 coming in low, sporting Gatling guns on both sides of the aircraft. (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    RNoAF/Kystvakt (Coast Guard) NH-90 with tail no. 049 from 139 Luftving during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    RNoAF/Kystvakt (Coast Guard) NH-90 with tail no. 049 from 139 Luftving during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    A Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) Westland Sea King (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    A Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) Westland Sea King (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    The final operational landing of a Norwegian Lynx (Image © Mats Grimsæth / Forsvarets Mediesenter)
    The final operational landing of a Norwegian Lynx, before the type was retired in December 2014 (read story and sea more images here) (Image © Mats Grimsæth / Forsvarets Mediesenter)

    One of the best Tigers ever, if we had our say. Which we have, now. The Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter served within the RNoAF 1966 to 2000. Norway bought 78 single-seaters (A), 14 two-seaters (B) and 16 RF-5A tactical reconnaissance jets (Image © Elmer van Hest)
    One of the best Tigers ever, if we had our say. Which we have, now. The Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter served within the RNoAF 1966 to 2000. Norway bought 78 single-seaters (A), 14 two-seaters (B) and 16 RF-5A tactical reconnaissance jets (Image © Elmer van Hest)

    The first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 lands at Luke AFB. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)
    The first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 lands at Luke AFB. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)

    Belgian F-16s take on Baltic Air Policing

    Belgian Air Component F-16AM FA-69 right after take-off. (Image © Marcel Burger)
    Belgian Air Component F-16AM FA-69 right after take-off. (Image © Marcel Burger)

    Belgian F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons will take on the Baltic Air Policing duties of NATO from September to December 2013, reports the press service of the Belgian Air Component.

    From Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania four F-16 fighter aircraft supported by 50 personnel will provide air cover and air interception for NATO’s most eastern North European aerospace. It will be the third time for the Belgian Vipers, after earlier participation in 2004 and 2006.

    Every Belgian fighter pilot will clock about 15 tot 20 flight hours per month, totaling 320 flight hours for the entire mission. NATO’s detachment of fighter jets in Lithuania regularly intercepts or shadows Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea. The former Soviet Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are since 2004 part of NATO. Since they lack proper air defence assets themselves, other NATO members jump in on the joint task to protect the airspace of its member nations. The same defence agreement also counts for the NATO countries of Luxemburg, Iceland and Slovenia who all lack fighter aircraft.

    Source: Belgian Air Component

    Check out the Belgian Air Component Orbat at Scramble.nl

    Norway ‘not amused’ by F-16 pilot cut

    RNoAF F-16AM no. 292 over Langvatnet, North West of Snøhetta (Image © Morten Hanche / Forsvaret)
    RNoAF F-16AM no. 292 over Langvatnet, North West of Snøhetta (Image © Morten Hanche / Forsvaret)

    UPDATE SEPTEMBER 5: In the year 2014 Norway can still count on six F-16 pilot training positions in the USA (Forsvaret). But how it looks in 2015 is still uncertain.

    The Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvaret) and political parties are ‘not amused’ by a recent American move to cut the number of Norwegian F-16 pilot training positions in the USA from six to only two, reports Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on July 17th, 2013.

    The US action could be both for financial reasons and to free training spots for Iraqi and Japanese pilots, say sources to the newspaper.

    Norway has committed itself to the F-16 and more or less to its successor the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter). The biggest Norwegian opposition party (conservative Høyre) now wants the government to postpone signing the F-35 main contract or cancel it all together.

    Currently six pilots are doing their lead-in fighter training in the USA on the T-38 Talon. For four of them it is now highly uncertain if they can continue as previously planned on the F-16 Fighting Falcon in Tuscon (Arizona) later this year. It also confronts the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) with the possible lack of qualified pilots for the defence of the country.

    © 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

    See also our Overview: Royal Norwegian Air Force