King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands visited Volkel airbase to learn about the deployment of F-16 fighters in the Netherlands and other countries.
King Willem-Alexander – a certified airline pilot who regularly flies for KLM – also took part in a training mission. He was briefed ahead of the mission and debriefed afterwards with all the pilots involved. During the briefings, the Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Commander of the airbase were also present. After the evaluation of the training mission, King Willem-Alexander also spoke about the future of the F-16.
The airbase is currently preparing for the arrival of the F-35A Lightning II (F-35) which is due to come to Volkel in 2022 to eventually replace the F-16. The first new F-35 is already at Leeuwarden airbase, which King Willem-Alexander visited on 6 November 2019.
The Volkel airbase is one of the two so-called ‘Main Operating Bases’ of the Dutch Royal Air Force. Their main task is to provide air support and to defend the air space. Until the end of 2016, the Netherlands only guarded its own air space but since then Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg take turns defending each other’s air space. Two F-16 fighters are continually on standby in case of an immediate threat.