Jordan, January 10, 2018
Dutch deploy F-16s to Jordan, relieving Belgians

Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-16s have flown their first missions over Iraq and eastern Syria as part of the coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) since relieving Belgian F-16s, the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced. The Dutch F-16s deployed to Al-Asraq in Jordan on 3 January and flew their first missions two days later.

Six RNLAF F-16s, including two reserve aircraft, left Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands on the morning of 3 January. The deployment of the 150-strong Dutch contingent from Eindhoven Air Base began at the end of December.

RNLAF Commander Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt said the mission of the Dutch aircraft has shifted from the earlier emphasis on hitting pre-planned targets such as ammunition depots, warehouses, and ISIS headquarters to support of ground troops and reconnaissance.

Visiting the Dutch contingent in Jordan on 5 January, Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said, “Iraqi and coalition forces rely heavily on support from the air. In any case, fighter aircraft have a deterrent function.”

The Dutch relieved Belgian F-16s deployed to Al-Asraq, along with 100 personnel, from 1 July 2016 to the end of December 2017. The Belgian deployment began with six F-16s and was later reduced to four aircraft. During their deployment, Belgian F-16s conducted two to four flights a day six days a week, clocking up 6,108 hours, according to the Belgian MoD.