One of the highlights of any RNLAF show over the years has been the Tactical Demonstration
This consists of pretty much everything you could imagine, fighter jets, helicopters, transport aircraft and ground troops
The Lockheed C-130H Hercules above gets airborne prior to the commencement of the demo
Another much anticipated aircraft was the German F-4F Phantom
Slated for withdrawal from service in two weeks time, this example displays a scheme applied for the event at Wittmund in June
Supporting the F-18s were two Pilatus PC-12s from 21 Sqn, one of which is seen above
Armee de L'Air participation on the ground, with two Dassault Rafales from 02/030 EC at Mont-de-Marsan
June 14th/15th 2013 saw the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) airshow take place at Volkel Air Base, close to the town of Uden, Noord-Brabant. Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Military Aviation in Holland, and taking into account the celebratory nature of this years event, it was hoped that it would be one of the better displays occurring in Europe. The RNLAF's ancestor, the Luchtvaartafdeling (aviation department) of the Dutch Army was founded on 1st July 1913, with four pilots at Soesterberg airfield. When founded, the Army Aviation Group operated one aircraft, the Brik, which was supplemented with three French Farman aircraft a few months later. These aircraft were soon outdated and the Dutch government ordered several fighter/reconnaissance Nieuport and Caudron aircraft to replace them.
After the end of World War I, the Dutch government cut the defence budget and the Army Aviation Group was almost dissolved. As political tensions in Europe increased during the late 1930's the government tried to rebuild the armed forces again. But there was a shortage of pilot instructors, navigators and pilots to fly the new multi-engined aircraft. Lack of standardisation and resulting maintenance issues added to the complexity of the rebuilding task. As war loomed again, in July 1939 the Army Aviation Group was renamed the Army Aviation Brigade (Luchtvaartbrigade). In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands and within five days the Dutch Army Aviation Brigade was taken out by the Luftwaffe.
Some aircrews escaped to England and on 1st June 1940, 320 Sqn and 321 Sqn were established under RAF command. Due to a shortage of personnel, 321 Sqn was absorbed by 320 Sqn in January 1941. Although their personnel were predominantly from the Navy Air Service, Army Aviation aircrew also served with 320 Sqn until the end of the war. In 1941, the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School was re-established in the United States at Jackson Field, Mississippi, operating lend-lease aircraft and training all military aircrew for the Netherlands. In June 1943, a Dutch fighter squadron was established in England. 322 (Dutch) Sqn, equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire, saw action as part of the RAF. 322 Sqn aircraft wore RAF roundels as well as the Dutch orange triangle. 322 Sqn was successfully deployed against incoming V-1 flying bombs and from mid-1944 during the invasion of Normandy, it executed ground-attack missions over France and Belgium.
On the 27th March 1953 the Royal Netherlands Air Force officially became an independent part of the Dutch armed forces as The Air Defense Command, (Commando Lucht Verdediging). After the Netherlands joined NATO another new command: Tactical Air Command (Commando Tactische Luchtstrijdkrachten, abbreviated CTL) was established. The CTL consisted of seven new strike squadrons (306, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315 and 316 sqn), all equipped with Republic F-84G Thunderjet aircraft. These aircraft were supplied by the United States under the Mutual Defense Aid Program from 1952–1956, with 311 Sqn being the first squadron to be stood up at Volkel on 1st May 1951.
Since then the RNLAF has undergone expansion and contraction, and as with most air arms in this day and age is finding itself ever more and more constricted by budgetary constraints. Some 'news' that came to light during the celebrations at Volkel was that the Dutch Government finally confirmed an order for the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to replace the existing F-16 Fighting Falcons, however this has subsequently been denied. So we wait and see, at some point the F-16s will have to be replaced as they reach the end of their service life. Lower and lower availabilty levels will eventually force the Dutch Government's hand, and the RNLAF will start to take delivery of a new fighter jet, will it be the F-35, or something less capable, only time will tell.
'Red Arrows' and 'Freece Tricolori' thrill the crowds above Volkel
The Namest based 'Hinds' from 221 Letka, Czech Air Force, performed an aerial display and also provided a static example
#3361 above is a Mil Mi-35 version of the Russian helicopter
The Hind in the static park was this Mi-24V version, wearing a distinctive blue 'Tiger' scheme,
highlighting 221 Letka as a member of the NATO Tiger Community
Another first-timer at Volkel was the Romanian Air Force Alenia C-27J Spartan transport aircraft from 90ATB at Otopeni
The Austrian Air Force had two Pilatus PC-7s at Volkel
The example above sporting a 'snake' colour scheme, which was applied some years ago
The Eurofighter 2000 was represented by two German Luftwaffe examples from JG.73 at Laage
The Swedish Gripen's partner was a Saab 105 trainer, which displayed in the static arena
The Aero L.39 Albatross from the Estonian Air Force still wears the distinctive scheme of its former owner,
the 'Baltic Bees' display team
Following a simulated airfield attack, this F-16 powers away from the area in full afterburner
The pre-show announcement that the Estonian Air Force would attend Volkel caused quite a stir amongst enthusiasts
This ancient Antonov An-2 was a welcome aircraft in the static display
So there we have it, another succesful Dutch airshow completed. Having attended a large number of Dutch shows over the years, I have never quite seen the large crowds that attended this years event, no doubt attracted by the fact it was celebrating 100 years of Dutch Military Aviation. I am sure the Dutch authorities and organisers would count this year's Volkel show as a resounding success, which in these days of austerity is something to be proud of. Next year's event is scheduled to take place at the helicopter base of Gilze-Rijen, they will have to go some to top this year's show.
#J-643 well illustrates the 'cone' effect from the rear of the jet as it uses its afterburner to increase power
It seems at the moment that almost everyone is celebrating some kind of anniversary, and this German Navy Lynx is no exception
The largest aircraft in the static display was one of two KDC-10s operated by 334 Sqn RNLAF at nearby Eindhoven
The air display was a 'flare-fest' for spectators, as illustrated by this Royal Danish Air Force Lockheed C-130J Hercules
#160616 is a single-seat LTV A-7E Corsair wearing a special scheme for 336 MIRA 'Olympos'
A not too familiar sight outside of its native Poland is the mighty Sukhoi SU-22M-3 'Fitter'
Three of these swing-wing fighter bombers were at Volkel, with two taking part in the aerial display
The Finnish Air Force provided a couple of F-18C Hornets, one in the static display and one in the flying display
The RNLAF had a couple of specially marked F-16s in the static, including this aircraft from 323 Sqn 'Diana'
A couple of older attendees of former Dutch military origin were this Lockheed F-104G Starfighter and a Bell 204 Huey of the navy
The Swedish Air Force Historic Flight opened the flying display on the Saturday with the mighty Saab Viggen
The photograph above illustrates the classic twin-delta design to good effect
The Portuguese Air Force was represented by two F-16 'Vipers', #15108 being in the static display
Italian Air Force 'Frecce Tricolori' display their MB.339PAN aircraft
Acquired by the Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation in 2007, this former RAF aircraft is representative of the RNLAF Hunters operated
Dutch two-seaters wore the serials N-301 to N-320 in service and so the DHHF decided to apply the next serial in line; N-321
The Royal Norwegian Air Force had two F-16s in the static aircraft display, inclduing the specially marked #686
At the completion of the 'Tac Demo' the F-16s formate in front of the massed crowds for a photo opportunity
Another L.39 at Volkel came from the Slovakian Air Force. This example being a newly refurbished L.39CM model
The tail commemorates Major General Otto Smik, a famous Slovakian pilot
A RNLAF McDonnell-Douglas KDC-10 aerial refuelling tanker formates with two F-16 'Vipers'
Maintaining the Dutch F-16 theme was the solo display aircraft above
Two of the most popular aircraft to arrive at Volkel were the A-7 Corsairs from 336 MIRA based at Araxos
The aircraft above is a two-seat TA-7C wearing the standard camouflage applied to Greek A-7s
Another aircraft keen to display flares during its display was the Dutch AH-64D Apache Longbow
Volkel Airshow 2013
"100 Years of Dutch Military Aviation"
An example of the Eurocopter NH.90 NFH helicopter, currently equipping 860 Sqn at De Kooy
Another General Dynamics F-16AM in the static was #J-006, celebrating 70 years of 322 Sqn
Aerobatic teams were much in evidence at Volkel, the RAF 'Red Arrows' depart to perform before the crowds
Next up are the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons
This example wears the AZ tailcode of the KLu detachment at Tuscon, Arizona. It is now flown by 313 Sqn at Volkel