- Aircraft and helicopters
The F-16 Fighting Falcon MLU (Mid-Life Update) is a multi-functional fighter aircraft. The F-16 is an extremely valuable weapon system and is one of the mainstays of the striking power of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
Length 15.05 m
Height 5 m
Wingspan 10 m (including missiles)
Engines 1 x Pratt & Whitney 100-PW-220E turbojet
Power Thrust 15,000 lbs without afterburners; 25,000 lbs with afterburners
Weight empty: approximately 11,000 kg maximum: 16,000 kg
Maximum speed 2,000 km/h Flight range 2,700 km without in-air refueling Flight ceiling maximum 17 km
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin (previously General Dynamics)
Number total purchased 213 (177 single-seat and 36 two-seat), now 87.
In use with Royal Netherlands Air Force
Several so-called 'hard points' are mounted under the wings and body to carry bombs and missiles. The mission profile will determine the armament that the F-16 carries on a sortie.
The F-16 can also carry an electronic jamming container under the body. Since the mid-life update, it has also been possible to mount target-acquisition and reconnaissance instruments on the air intake.
The main tasks of the F-16 are:
- Taking part in strategic air operations, carrying out precision bombing from medium-range altitudes with only a minimal risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.
- Providing support to friendly forces during tactical operations, with high-accuracy fire and/or bombing to prevent casualties among friendly forces.
- Acquiring and maintaining air dominance in order to provide the required freedom of action for friendly air, sea and ground forces. That also includes participating in air embargoes and interdiction, such as enforcing a no-fly zone.
- This multirole figher aircraft can also be used for air-reconnaissance missions, with the F-16's great speed making it possible to reconnoitre a large area. The disadvantage of fighter aircraft in a reconnaissance role is the relatively short amount of time they can spend above the area being reconnoitred.
Since 1998, the F-16s have been modernised as part of the Mid-life Update programme. The Royal Netherlands Air Force took the F-16 into service in 1979 as the successor to the F-104 Starfighter and later as the successor the NF-5 Freedom Fighter. The F-16 is scheduled to be replaced by a new aircraft type starting in 2015.
In terms of development, production and operation, the multi-role fighter aircraft is a very valuable weapon system. As long as it is constantly being updated to reflect the current threat spectrum, it will have a long operational life and will be suitable for carrying out a wide range of tasks, making it ultimately extremely cost-effective.
Since 1984, the air force has been using F-16s painted in a special colour scheme to perform in spectacular demonstrations at national and international aviation events during the summer months.