Last Dutch F-16 Squadron Carries Out Readiness Exercise at Volkel AB

Volkel exercise
The impressive line up of RNLAF F-16s at Volkel AB on Dec. 8, 2023 (All images, credit: Author)

F-16 Fighting Falcons of the RNLAF 312th Squadron took part in a readiness exercise at Volkel Air Base.

On Dec. 8, 2023, the 312 Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) held an impressive readiness exercise at their homebase Volkel, the Netherlands.

The 71-year old Squadron, known as the “Bonzo Squadron”, is the last Dutch F-16 Squadron, operating the Viper (as the Fighting Falcon jet is nicknamed in the fighter pilots community) since 1985.

The Dutch Vipers lined up at Volkel AB.

For the readiness drill, the ground crews formed an impressive line-up of 16 F-16AM block 20s on the cross servicing flightline. Around 13:15LT fourteen engines started up after which a small ‘Elephant Walk‘ took place on the runway 24R/06L followed by the take off of thirteen jets.

It is believed that a total of 24 airframes are still in service with the RNLAF. However, two F-16s made their last flight this Friday and the overall number of mission capable jets will gradually decrease approaching the upcoming retirement planned for September 2024.

The tails of the RNLAF F-16s.

Thereafter, the “Bonzo Squadron” will become the third F-35A unit of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

About Edwin Schimmel
Edwin Schimmel is a freelance photographer based near Utrecht city in The Netherlands. His first article and photo publications date back to the mid 90’s in Dutch aviation magazines like Onze Luchtmacht and De Vliegende Hollander. Later on he also got published in international aviation magazines like Air Forces Monthly and Combat Aircraft. Since 2000 he works in the Air Traffic Control at the Royal Netherlands Air Force. He reported from many bases around Europe but also in the US and Japan.