MILAVIA > Air Forces > Pictorials > Netherlands - KLu


Air Force Pictorial: Netherlands Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu) All photographs by Robert Arts

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) is although limited in size of inventory a good contributor for NATO and UN Air Power. The six squadrons of F-16AM and F-16BM (two-seater) multi role fighter aircraft present the main operating type. In the end of the 1990s a mid-life update (MLU) program was started for the F-16s. In 2002 the last MLU returned to its operational squadrons. The F-16s are divided over three Main Operatin Bases, which are Leeuwarden, Twente and Volkel Air Base.
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The Dutch helicopter force is operated and maintained by the Air Force. This also includes the 30 AH-64D Apaches acquired in early 1990s. All 30 are now deliverd and the leased AH-64A Apaches have been returned to the United States. The AH-64D Apaches operated by the KLu are full D-variants with provision for the Longbow radar, which were not included in the sale. The Apache force is based at Gilze-Rijen AB with conversion training taking place in the USA.
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The main workhorse of the Tactische Helikopter Groep, THG (Tactical Helicopter Group) is a fleet of AS532U2 Cougar medium size transport helicopter. Mainly operated in support of airborne troops of the Dutch Army. The Cougar can also be equipped for combat search and rescue (CSAR).
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The heavy transport role of the Helicopter Group is carried out by the CH-54D Chinooks. These twin-rotor helicopters are used to carry troops as well as buggies for the airborne troops. Recent upgrade includes Night Vision Goggles and a defensive aids suit.
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The Bolkow BO-105 light utility helicopter used to be the main recce platform for the helicopter force. But was also used for light transport and medevac operations. Although other operators of the type, including Germany, also operated the BO-105 with HOT anti-tank missiles, the Netherlands never equipped them with any offensive or defensive weapons. All remaining 25 helicopter were retired recently. SAR duties are carried out by the AB-412 SP, also known as Tweety because of the yellow color.
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The transport fleet of the RNLAF has seen many changes during the 1990s. The ageing limited transport fleet of Fokker F27 Friendship and Troopships were retired and replaced by Fokker 50 and 60 transport aircraft, two C-130H Hercules medium/heavy transport aircraft and two KDC-10 tankers.
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The Fokker 50 and 60 aircraft are primarily used for transport, medevac and passenger flights. The Fokker 50 is basically an updated design based on the Fokker F27. The Fokker 60 is basically a lengthened Fokker 50 and can be distinguished by the light and dark grey color scheme. The KLu also operated a single Gulfstream IV for the transport of VIPs and government representatives.
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Text: Niels Hillebrand
Photographs: Robert Arts (, or visit his website)
Info Sources: none used

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Copyright 2002-2005 Niels Hillebrand unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved.