313 Squadron Stops Viper Ops; Start Conversion on Lightning II

At the end of December 2020, the 313 Squadron at Volkel Air Base will cease its current activities with the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The unit is released from operational duty to begin its conversion to the F-35A Lightning II. The conversion will start in early 2021. The pilots will leave to the United States to Luke Air Force Base in the state of Arizona. At this American airbase, the Royal Netherlands Air Force currently has eight F-35As that are used for the training of the pilots. The pilots will be trained in the course of the following year. The ex F-16 pilots no longer have to go through the entire program, because they are, after all, already qualified fighter pilots. This is therefore only a conversion training on the Lockheed-Martin F-35A Lightning II. The fact that the pilots already have experience on the F-16 is a plus, but that does not mean that the conversion training is immediately an easy training, because the F-35A is an advanced aircraft and cannot be compared with the F-16. The ground crew will receive the necessary training at the American Eglin Air Force Base in the state of Florida. All American ground personnel for the F-35 are also trained at this American airbase. The Dutch personnel here only receive the necessary basic lessons on the new fighter type of air force. They will follow the real “on the job” training at Leeuwarden Air Base later in 2021. Here they will learn the job by learning from more experienced colleagues from the 322 Squadron. This unit of the Royal Netherlands Air Force has been using the F-35A since October 2019. people learn from experienced colleagues and will take this knowledge back to Volkel Air Base at a later date in 2022.

Once the pilots have completed their conversion training in America, the 313 Squadron will temporarily reside at Leeuwarden Air Base, probably in the second half of 2021. Here, too, the main goal is that the pilots of the 313 Squadron will learn from their experienced colleagues from the 322 Squadron. At Leeuwarden, the 313 Squadron will therefore start its road to initial operational status as a squadron. If everything goes according to plan, the 313 Squadron will not be relocated to Volkel Air Base until 2022. How this timeline will develop has not yet been fully determined, because the conversion to the F-35 depends on many different factors such as deliveries of aircraft and progress of training etc. After a period of 32 years, the 313 Squadron will stop flying the legendary F-16 Fighting Falcon. The unit received its first F-16s in 1988, when the unit was still based at Twenthe Air Base. From December 2005, the first F-16s from 313 Squadron were moved to Volkel. Since then, the Brabant airbase has been home to the 313 Squadron, which is known for its emblem depicting the tiger. The 313 Squadron is the second operational unit after the 322 Squadron to fly the F-35A. About 25 F-16s are currently based on Volkel. The best airframes with the fewest flight hours on the clock will be transferred to the 312 Squadron. Now that the 313 Squadron is about to start its conversion to the F-35A, from January 2021, the 312 Squadron will be the only operational unit on the F-16 left in the Netherlands. A few F-16s still fly at Leeuwarden every day, but those operations will also disappear in 2021, making Leeuwarden the first airbase in the Netherlands to be fully operational on the F-35A.

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#F16, #FightingFalcon #RNLAF #KLu #Volkel #Airpower #312squadron #313squadron #Viper #Conversion


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