Filmed on the Flightline - The Leeuwarden F-16 Fighting Falcon Fly Out; 42 Years Dutch Aviation History


At the Dutch airbase Leeuwarden, the RNLAF said goodbye to the F-16 Fighting Falcon on July 5th 2021. the aircraft is also nicknamed "Viper". The Fly-Out was scheduled for July 1st, but was delayed due to a crash at Leeuwarden of a Belgian Air Force F-16 during the Weapon Instructor Coarse (WIC). The Dutch F-16s finally left Leeuwarden Air Base on July 5th after a period of 42 years at this Frisian air base. The last four based F-16s from Leeuwarden would definitely leave from the northern airbase.

Leeuwarden was the first airbase of the Royal Netherlands Air Force to receive the F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1979. The 322 Squadron was the first unit to use the type within the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) and is now the first unit in the Air Force to replace the type for the F-35A Lightning II. This is a huge milestone for the Air Force, as the F-16 was the backbone of the Royal Netherlands Air Force for many years. The F-16 took part in many conflicts in Dutch service as part of an international coalition. Famous deployments were those in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

For the "F-16 Fly-Out" the unit painted a few aircraft in the original colors of the Frisian airbase from the 1980s. A total of four aircraft were painted, three of which had the original Frisian markings of the based squadrons. These planes are; the J-509 bearing the full color badges of 322 Squadron nicknamed "Polly", the J-144 bearing the full color badges of 323 Squadron nicknamed "Diana" and finally the J-201 bearing the full color badges of the Transition and Conversion Department (Transitie & Conversie Afdeling, TCA). The fourth aircraft, the J-871, carries the dragon on the tail, which is the symbol of Leeuwarden Air Base.

When the aircraft left, they left Leeuwarden for the last time after 42 years. The fighter aircraft landed at their new home base Volkel Air Base in the south of the Netherlands. Before this landing took place, the four F-16s made a flight along almost all Dutch military airfields to say goodbye to the Leeuwarden F-16s. The last F-16 flights are planned in 2024, when Volkel will also have its "Viper Varewell" and the F-16 at the Royal Netherlands Air Force will retired from service.