The four Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM/BM fighter jets deployed to Jordan to bomb the so-called Islamic State forces in Syria, have only done that four times this year.
The information is included in a letter of Dutch minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert to the Dutch parliament in The Hague.
Communication limits have made the RNLAF jets less useful to international community fighting ISIS / ISIL / Daesh and the United States, which is leading the operations. Since February, when the F-16s were cleared for the Syrian operations, the aircraft only flew seven mission in total in the skies of that nation.
The Swedish government is mostly ignoring a request by France for military support. Paris asked for combat assets after the November 2015 terror attacks in the French capital that left 130 people (plus 7 attackers) dead, about 90 people critically wounded and another 270 less-critical injured.
Within European Union agreements France subsequently asked all EU members states for military support, to which all countries agreed, arguing that the attacks executed by a cell of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) forces that rule in large parts of Syria and Iraq was a military attack. Paris hoped for Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen jets for tactical reconnaissance for Operation Barkhane (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) and/or Syria. But on Wednesday 16 December 2015 Stockholm says no to this request.
International grey zone
“The most important reason is that deploying Gripen planes would put them in a grey zone when it comes to international law. That could change once there is a very clear United Nations mandate,” Swedish foreign minister Margo Wallström said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
However, Sweden is willing to give away 50 to 100 hours of its 160 hours on the NATO/EU Boeing C-17A Globemaster III Heavy Airlift Wing based at Papa Airbase in Hungary. Moreover, Stockholm is willing to look at a French request to use Swedish weapon stocks or military materiel. In 2017 Sweden is planning to contribute one of its TP 84 (C-130) Hercules tactical airlifter to the UN force in Mali (MINUSMA). Political and military experts, and part of the opposition in Swedish parliament, sees the Swedish answer to the Paris request as an unclear compromise, and certainly something far off of what the French government was hoping for.
Operation Unified Protector
In April to October 2011 first eight, later five Swedish Air Force Gripen jets flew tactical reconnaissance missions under NATO umbrella in the skies over Libya, operating from Sicily. This operation Unified Protector was backed by the UN. The 2011 deployed marked the first Swedish combat missions since the 1960s, when SAAB J29 Tunnans formed the air element of the UN forces in Congo.
Danish F-16 aircraft – or rather their pilots – are not ready to bomb so-called Islamic State forces (Daesh / ISIS / ISIL) in Syria. The fighter jocks need additional training now that Russia has deployed an advanced anti-air missile system in Syria.
“Our F-16 pilots need ‘re-schooling’ and more advanced training before they could be sent into Syrian airspace. The threat against the aircraft is just too big,” Danish defense minister Peter Christensen told journalist of the quality Danish newspaper Politiken.
Denmark may be called upon by France after Paris requested military help from the European Union countries following the terror attacks in the French capital. All EU countries, including Denmark, agreed to come to the rescue under EU rules.
F-16 Detachment in Kuwait
While Royal Air Force Tornado and Typhoon jets recently joined Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s and the air forces of the United States and France in targeting both ISIS’s economic (oil fields) and military locations, the defence minister in Copenhagen says that Danish pilots are not ready to do a similar job.
S-400 on Khmeymim Airbase
The very advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system that Russia deployed on/near Khmeymim Airbase near the Syrian city of Latakia after one of its Sukhoi Su-24 was downed by a Turkish F-16. The S-400 missiles are believed to be able to reach targets at more than 110 miles (185 km) with almost 3 times the speed of sound (Mach 2.9).
F-16 Detachment in Kuwait
Denmark withdrew its detachment of seven F-16 jets, based at Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait, this Autumn from Operation Inherent Resolve. The last of 547 missions was flown on 30 September 2015. The Danes retreated because of verworked maintenance crews, untrained pilots (for other missions than air strikes against ISIS) and budgetary constrains. The Royal Danish Air Force F-16s only operated against targets in Iraq.
The bombing of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) forces in Syria and Iraq has mainly become a limited Western war. The Arab nations of the coalition no longer take part in it. Meanwhile, Germany is on course to join the coalition.
Apart from Syria and Iraq themselves that is. According to fresh reports it’s mainly the United States, Russia and France who currently operate in the entire region. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has been reluctant to fly into Syria, especially since Moscow sent its expeditionary wing to Hmeymim Airbase near Latakia on the Syrian coast. The RAAF focuses on Iraq only, from the beginning and now. The Royal Air Force and Royal Netherlands Air Force do take part in operations in Syria.
Many of those nations are now actively involved in the military operations in the Yemen, where some rivalising forces are supported by Iran – seen as a opponent by all Arab nations mentioned above. The shifting of involvement is – however – also considered a political one now that the conflict especially in Syria has become more complicated with the Russian armed forces involved.
Climax in Syria
An illustration of the troublesome and fluent situation in the skies over Syria from last Tuesday, 24 November: a Turkish F-16 downed a Russian Air Force Su-24 Fencer, with Moscow saying that the strike aircraft posed no threat to Turkey, and Ankara admitting the aircraft flew inside Turkish aerospace for only 17 seconds. It was the climax so far in a conflict that mainly sees the US, Russia and France in action. Their forces only sometimes cooperate in bombing raids against the ISIS, with the Russian adding an extra volatile touch by bombing all forces opposing the government army of Syria.
A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A (Airbus A330 MRTT) has used its air‑to‑air refuelling boom for the first time on operations while refuelling a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail (Boeing 737) last week during a Coalition mission above Iraq, the Ministry of Defence in Canberra announced on 27 October 2015.
The air-to-air boom refuelling process involved two large aircraft, military versions of the Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-700, approaching within metres of each other while in flight and transferring fuel via a manoeuvrable pipe, known as a boom, which extends back from the rear of the KC-30A. This type of refuelling involves use of the AAR boom at the rear of the aircraft, rather than the wingtip AAR drogues used to refuel smaller aircraft equipped with an AAR probe.
The Air Refuelling Operator was responsible for remotely manoeuvring the boom from a control panel on the KC-30A flight deck. While moving at an altitude of 25,000 feet at speeds over 400 knots the KC-30 crew transferred 34,750 pounds of fuel within 15 minutes. That’s equal to 300 family sedan cars at a rate of less than three seconds per car.
A KC-30A and an E-7A Wedgetail, along with six F/A-18A Hornet aircraft, are deployed with the Australian Air Task Group as part of Operation Okra – the Australian contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve – or air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) forces in Iraq and Syria.