- Defence Materiel Organisation
The F-16 came into service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) in the late 1970s. After years of good service and capability, the F-16 is approaching the end of its operational, technical and economic lifespan.
There are different types of ageing which the F-16 will encounter during the next decade:
- Operational ageing
The F-16 is no longer able to deal with new and upcoming operational circumstances (different threats).
- Technical ageing
Spare parts are more difficult to obtain, wear and tear is harder to repair and maintenance is becoming more labour-intensive which causes pressure on deployment.
- Economic ageing
The costs to prevent operational and technical ageing are rising.
Originally, the F-16’s lifespan was 20 years, but in the 1990s the Ministry of Defence decided to provide the Dutch F-16s with a Mid-Life Update (MLU) to extend the lifespan of the aircraft. Around 2015, the oldest aircraft with an MLU will reach the end of their lifespan.
The F-16 phase-out will continue until at least 2023, at which point the oldest F-16s will be about 40 years old.