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Netherlands to open third F-35 base in response to ‘deteriorating world security situation'

Seen in the US, Dutch F-35As will be locating to De Peel Air Base as well as Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases under plans announced by the MoD on 14 October. (US Air Force)

The Netherlands is to open a third airbase to accommodate the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft, “due to the deteriorating security situation in the world”.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) made the announcement on 14 October, saying that the decommissioned De Peel Air Base in the southeast of the country will be reopened to serve as an F-35A station alongside Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases.

“Due to the deteriorating security situation in the world, [the armed forces] has to practice more. As a result, the number of military flights is increasing, but due to the closure of the Soesterberg, Twenthe, and Valkenburg air bases some 16 years ago, the Ministry of Defence has little room to expand the number of flights. All airbases are ‘full', or almost full. Reopening of [the] De Peel Air Base helps to solve the lack of space at airbases,” the ministry said.

De Peel most recently served as a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) reserve base for the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, closing to flight operations in the early 1990s before being turned over to ground-based air-defence units and then to the Royal Netherlands Army as a barracks.

Ahead of the planned reopening of the base to military air traffic, the RNLAF conducted ‘noise experience flights' of the F-35A in the area. The air force said that the runway has not yet been made suitable for F-35A take-offs and landings, and much of the infrastructure will need to be modernised to accommodate the fifth-generation ‘stealth' fighter.

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