Leeuwarden Air Base

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Leeuwarden Air Base
Vliegbasis Leeuwarden
Vliegbasis Leeuwarden Bord.jpg
Exterior sign for Vliegbasis Leeuwarden
Airport type Military
Owner Military of the Netherlands
Operator Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF)
Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu)
Location Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands
Elevation AMSL 1 m / 3 ft
Coordinates 53°13′43″N 05°45′38″E / 53.22861°N 5.76056°E / 53.22861; 5.76056
Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24 2,957 9,701 Asphalt
09/27 1,999 6,559 Asphalt

Leeuwarden Air Base (Dutch: Vliegbasis Leeuwarden) is a military airbase used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) - Dutch: Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), (IATA: LWRICAO: EHLW). The airbase is one of the two F-16 Fighting Falcon bases of the RNLAF. The airbase lies North-West of the capital of Friesland, Leeuwarden.

Leeuwarden Air Base is also one of the three military airbases (together with Gilze-Rijen Air Base and Volkel Air Base), which organises the annual public open days of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, consisting of an air show and static exhibits.


Sud-Aviation SE3160 Alouette III. These were used in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role at Leeuwarden until 1994.

The airport of Leeuwarden was built in 1938, and originally was used as an airport between Schiphol – Eelde. In the beginning the airport was used infrequently, but when the Germans invaded the country in 1940, the situation changed. The Germans used the airport as a base for their fighter aircraft (including the Messerschmitt Bf 109) and bombers. From this airbase the Germans could reach Great Britain. During World War II, on the 16th and 17th of September 1944, the airbase was heavily bombed by the British.

After the liberation of the Netherlands, the airbase was repaired. The first years after the war the airport was used as a civil airport, and the KLM flew to Schiphol. In 1949, Leeuwarden became a military airbase.

Current role[edit]

Nowadays, there are two F-16 Squadrons based in military airbase Leeuwarden: the "swing-role" 322 Squadron RNLAF with its mascot a parrot named Polly Grey, and its motto: "Niet praten, maar doen!"; and the Tactical Training Evaluation and Standardisation (TACTES) 323 Squadron RNLAF. It is also the home base of 303 Squadron RNLAF (Search and Rescue), where three Agusta Bell AB 412SP are based, which is part of the newly formed Defence Helicopter Command (DHC). 323 Squadron stood down as F-16 Squadron on 31 October 2014 and passed the TACTES task to 322 Squadron on the same day. 323 Squadron was reinstated on 5 November 2014 at Eglin Air Force Base as the F-35A Test Squadron. 303 Squadron flew till 1 January 2015.

The airport is the location of the annual NATO exercise "Frisian Flag", and the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (FWIT). In 2006 and 2008 the airport was open to the public.

In 2016 a squadron of MQ-9 Reapers will be based at Leeuwarden Air Base to be fully operational as of 2017. The flight of 4 MQ-9 Reapers with a Ground Station will be fully air deployable and self-supporting for global operations. Future use by public services related to home land security and surveillance is also planned including the National Police, Border Patrol, Naval- & Environmental Surveillance.

March 31, 2015 6 F-15C's from the 125th Fighter Wing Florida Air National Guard landed to take part in the Frisian Flag multinational exercise. [1]


A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon "J-135". Note the depiction of the Frisian flag and the mascot Polley Grey on the tail.
  • 303 Squadron Agusta Bell AB 412SP till 1 January 2015
  • 322 Squadron F-16 (TACTES)
  • Squadron MQ-9 UAV as of 2016
  • 920 Maintenance Squadron
  • 921 Logistics Squadron
  • 922 Support Squadron
  • 931 Squadron
  • USAF 125th Fighter Wing

See also[edit]


External links[edit]