Final F-16 QRA duty for Leeuwarden air base
On 24 September 2020, 322 squadron "Polly Grey", based at Leeuwarden air base (the Netherlands), took over the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty of their F-16 colleagues of Volkel air base.
Two (with two spares) armed F-16s are now placed on a 24/7, few minutes alert status to SCRAMBLE, to counter any military or civil air threat that approaches the controlled airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX).
Within a period (...), as the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force) reported, the F-35A Lightning II will take over this task at Leeuwarden. The first Dutch operational F-35A squadron, 323 squadron "Diana", based at Leeuwarden is expected to be Initial Operating Capable (IOC) in 2021.
Since 1 January 2017, the QRA duties in BENELUX airspace are rotating between the Dutch air bases Leeuwarden and Volkel and the Belgian air bases Kleine Brogel and Florennes. Every base will execute its QRA task for four months before its handed over to the next base, so late 2021, early 2022 it is apparently planned that the Dutch Lightnings will get their first QRA tasks.
We hope that 322sq Fightning Falcons will get an Alpha Scramble to, for example, Russian strategic bombers that approach the BENELUX airspace, so a final goodbye to them is a equitable remuneration for Leeuwarden air base and the squadron.
Photo / image: Hans van Herk / Ministerie van Defensie