THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – Two RNLAF F-35s and six F-16s have been deployed immediately today to monitor and protect NATO airspace over Eastern Europe, the Dutch Ministry of Defense reports. The fighter jets will operate from Leeuwarden Air Base and Volkel Air Base.
The deployment of the 8 fighter jets is due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier today. It’s the first time that Dutch F-35s are officially deployed. Agreements had previously been made with NATO about this extra capacity, according to the Dutch MoD.
The F-35s from Leeuwarden Air Base and F-16s from Volkel Air Base are being deployed on a daily basis from their home base and will return every day. The fighter jets can remain in the air for a long time with the help of Airbus A330 MMRT tanker aircraft.
The Dutch MoD didn’t announce where the fighter aircraft will be deployed in Eastern Europe. Fact is that NATO countries like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltic states are very concerned about the Russian threat close to their borders.
The deployment is a separate operation from the two F-35s that will protect the airspace in South Eastern Europe in April and May. Those two aircraft will then be deployed to Bulgaria with about 90 support personnel.
A number of other Allies have announced their current or upcoming deployments of fighter aircraft. Denmark will deploy four F-16s to Lithuania, Spain is considering deploying fighter jets to Bulgaria, while the US is also considering to increase its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.
Photo: KLu (RNLAF)
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