MILAVIA > Air Forces > Netherlands - Royal Netherlands Air Force > Aircraft Last updated: 25 January 2016
Netherlands - Royal Netherlands Air Force

Royal Netherlands Air Force Aircraft / Inventory

Fixed-wing aircraft

Type: Number: Role:
F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon 137 105 87 68 61 fighter, attack, recce
F-35A Lightning II 2* (+35 planned) fighter, attack
Pilatus PC-7 13 training
KDC-10 2 tanker, transport
C-130H-30 Hercules 2 transport
C-130H Hercules 2 transport
G.1159C Gulfstream IV 1** VIP
Do-228-212 Coastguard 2 SAR, shipping/fishery/environmental inspection
Total number: 85

* = second aircraft in temporary storage, ** = to be sold

Of the 213 F-16A/Bs originally acquired, 138 were upgraded under the Mid-Life Update program. One MLU was lost, leaving the RNLAF with 137 aircraft at the end of the program. Defense cuts of 2003 subsequently decreased the number of F-16A/B MLU fighters to 108. The surplus MLU aircraft were sold to Chile (11x F-16AM, 7x F-16BM) and Jordan (5x F-16AM,6x F-16BM). Following additional cuts, 18 more were sold to Chile. Attrition and further defence cuts lead to only 68 remaining in service, until further disposals reduced the fleet to 61 from 2014 onwards. One F-16BM is a dedicated test aircraft with the KTV.
It was announced early on that fewer than the initially planned 85 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will be acquired, the decision ultimately came down to 35 production aircraft in the addition to the two initial test aircraft. Currently one test aircraft is in service, which rolled off the production line in April 2012. The aircraft is stationed in the United States and used for testing and instructor training as part of the wider multi-national program. The second test aircraft ordered has been completed but was stored for budget reasons. The aircraft flown by U.S. pilots in kept in flying condition until it will be put to use by the Netherlands.

The CUP work on the two KDC-10s was scheduled to start in late 2009 and in 2010 respectively, but has been postponed. A two-tone grey colour scheme, replaced the grey-blue-white scheme carried by the two KDC-10s initially.
One DC-10 transport was acquired to join the two KDC-10 tanker-transports in order to increase the availability of the latter for the aerial refuelling mission. Although the DC-10 arrived at Eindhoven AB on October 25, 2004, it did not enter service until after having received a major overhaul. The work was carried by Alitalia at Rome-Fiumicino between September 2005 and May 2006. Having returned to Eindhoven AB, it made a limited number of flights until it relocated to Woensdrecht in autumn 2007 for interior outfitting and a Cockpit Upgrade Programme (CUP), carried out by Fokker Services in cooperation with Boeing. Due to budget constraints the planned Palletized Interior System has been cancelled. This third DC-10 finally entered service in 2012, but it was decided to be sold as part of the May 2011 defense reforms. The DC-10 departed the Netherlands in 2014.

The RNLAF plans called for the acquisition of four additional, second-hand C-130H Hercules medium transports to fill the gap in its transport capabilities while retiring the Fokker 60UTA-N. The first two aircraft to fulfill this plan had been bought (former US Navy EC-130Qs) in 2005. In April 2006 the aircraft arrived at Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge, UK, to be overhauled and rebuilt to C-130H standard. The aircraft were originally scheduled to enter service in 2008, however due to difficulties in obtaining parts and unforeseen additional work this has been delayed. The first C-130H should be operational with 336 Sqn by late 2009, with the second example following in early 2010. They joined the two existing C-130H-30s, which have been repainted in an overal grey scheme, losing the previous two-tone grey camouflage.

Two of the Fokker 60UTA-N aircraft were put into storage at Woensdrecht AB and were offered for sale. The other two were converted to MPA for martime duties on the Dutch Antilles, which lasted until October 2007. The two MPAs were then also put into storage at Woensdrecht. All four were sold to Peru. Later also the two Fokker 50s were retired, these two were also sold to Peru in 2014.

Considering the delays concerning the work neccessary to return previously stored aircraft into service, it seems unlikely that the RNLAF will acquire a further two C-130Hs, especially since having joined the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability which will give the RNLAF a share of the program's C-17 flying hours once they are delivered.

The two Do-228-212 acquired for coastguard duties following the Navy's retirement of its P-3 Orion fleet are dedicated to use by the Coast Guard. They are on the civil registry, although the RNLAF owns and manages them. Crews are provided by the air force and navy, while a contractor maintains the aircraft. As they are flown by military crews, this allowed the Netherlands to contribute the type to the 2011 UN mission for monitoring the maritime exclusion zone off the coast of Libya.

Rotary-wing aircraft

Type: Number: Role:
AH-64D Apache 30 24 + 5** Attack
CH-47D Chinook 13 11 Transport
CH-47F Chinook 6 + 3* Transport
AS 532U2 Cougar Mk.II 17 8*** Transport
SE3160S Alouette III 4 VIP, liasion, Royal Flight
AB-412SP 3*** SAR, ambulance
NH-90 NFH 14 + 6* Navy
Total number: 70 + 14*/** - 11***

* = on order, ** = reserves, *** = retiring within near future

The ministry of defence planned to sell six AH-64Ds, these plans have now been abandoned. The U.S. DOD was the primary potential customer, but recently it was dediced to order new-built Apaches for the U.S. Army instead. One AH-64D Apache crashed in Afghanistan due to pilot error. Aircraft written off. The RNLAF opted to retain all Apaches, but only 24 of the helicopters are being fitted with the Lockheed Martin Arrowhead M-TADS/PNVS system. The five operational reserves are reportedly rotated in with the active fleet for increased aircraft availability for training. Although this may no longer be necessary since the end of the Afghanistan deployment, the number on strength still states 29 AH-64Ds.
Despite having been on the air force's wish list for more than a decade, none of the AH-64D Apache were fitted with the Longbow radar, as found on the -D versions of most other operators, and there seem to be no plans, nor funding, to acquire it.

Two of the 13 CH-47D Chinooks have crashed in Afghanistan and have been written off. Initially, the procurement of five additional Chinooks had been approved, as well as the upgrade of the eleven remaining CH-47Ds. On February 15, 2007, six new-built Boeing CH-47Fs were ordered with reports suggesting that the upgrade of the existing fleet might be postponed to 2013. The six CH-47Fs will not be delivered between July 2009 and January 2010 as originally planned due to software problems. Delivery was first delayed four months, but has since accumulated additional delays. The first CH-47F delivery is anticipated to occur in 2012.

In 2008/2009, the helicopter fleet of the Navy consisting of SH-14D Lynx helicopters have joined the air force's helicopters under the central Defense Helicopter Command. The Navy Lynx helicopters operated from frigates and naval station De Kooy and continued to do so even after DHC was established at Gilze-Rijen AB. It will be replaced by the NH90 NFH, but only a single example has been delivered thus far. On July 1, 2011, SAR operations with the Lynx stopped and the ageing fleet will finally retire on September 6, 2012. Therefore it is not included in the table above, and the total helicopter in use today is higher than stated until September.

In May 2010, as part of a major reduction in defense spending, it was decided to retire the 17 strong Cougar fleet. Only four examples would continue service taking over duties from the Lynx until the NH90 arrived in sufficient numbers. Although it was argued the NH90 NFH would be ill-fitted to take-over the roles of the Cougar, mainly troop transport, supply, and firefighting, a former proposed split buy to acquire the TTH variant of the NH90 in addition to the NFH has not been revived in light of the standing CH-47F orders. However, the rapid Cougar retirement has been reversed in part by keeping eight examples in service instead of just four. Some Cougar crews are now training for maritime operations.

Meanwhile the air force's AB-412SP took over SAR duties from the Lynx, although it is planned for the NH90 to take-over when on strength, at that point the AB-412SP will also have to be cut. Eventually, a civilian contractor is to be found to replace the AB-412SP in the ambulance role, which could include SAR coverage for the Waddenzee.

Other Equipment

Type: Number: Role:
MQ-9 Reaper 4* (2017) unmanned aerial vehicle, surveillance/recce
MIM-104 Patriot systems 4 3* ground-based air defense
Stinger transferred to the Army man portable air defense

Having retired the HAWK in 2004, the RNLAF was left with four PATRIOT systems in addition to Stinger MANPADs. It was decided that one Patriot system could be sold off. Remaining three systems have been upgraded to PAC-3 since 2007, starting with radar and software upgrades, followed by 32 PAC-3 missiles and associated canisters. Army and Air Force air defenses have since been consolidated under the Joint Air Defense Centrum. The Stinger MANPADs were transferred to the Army, which also received the recently ordered Norwegian-built NASAMS II short range air defense launchers and Stinger Weapon Platforms.

As part of the May 2011 defense cutbacks, it was announced one of the three Patriot systems will be sold. It's unclear whether this would include part of the PAC-III missile inventory, as is the timeframe.

First Added: 15 May 2004
Last Revised: 23 November 2014
Last Modified: 25 January 2016

Update log:
25 Jan 2016 Layout upgrade
23 Nov 2014 Updated & revised