The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is deploying two F-16AM Fighting Falcons and two armed F-35A Lightning II aircraft from Leeuwarden Air Base to further reinforce NATO’s presence across Eastern Europe.
The Dutch Ministry of Defense announced the plan to deploy the 5th generation jets to Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria through March and April, according to the NATO Allied Air Command. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Thursday altered these plans. It is now unclear whether the aircraft will go to Bulgaria, as the official statement from the Ministry of Defense noted they have been moved “in the vicinity of Poland,” the Aviationist reported.
— Netherlands at NATO (@NLatNATO) February 24, 2022
The F-16s and F-35s are part of a contingent of eight aircraft to be deployed to protect NATO airspace in Eastern Europe at a moment’s notice, the outlet described. (RELATED: Chernobyl Power Plant Has Been Captured By The Russians, Ukrainian Official Says)
The F-35s flew over Poland and refueled in the air over Gniezno, Poland, around 1:30 p.m. local time Thursday, and were spotted by a photographer, the outlet reported. This is the first time the Dutch Military has deployed the F-35s.
As highlighted in this report, one of the Dutch F-16s deployed to Eastern Europe in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine happens to be a MiG killer. It’s the airframe J-063 that shot down a Serbian MiG-29 on Mar. 24, 1999, during Op. Allied Forcehttps://t.co/Q4znDjE6HE pic.twitter.com/6c4WaFNe8J
— David Cenciotti (@cencio4) February 24, 2022
The F-16 was first used to down an Iraqi MiG-25 enemy aircraft by General Gary North of the United States Air Force (USAF) that had violated the no-fly zone in 1992, according to the Aviation Geek Club. One of the F-16s launched Thursday is a “MiG Killer,” having shot down a Serbian MiG-29 in March 1999, reported the Aviationist.